Sexual abuse is one of the most traumatic experiences a person can endure. The damaging effects of sexual abuse can last a lifetime — not just for an individual, but for their family, too. Such a breach of trust by a member of the clergy, teacher, caregiver or mentor can be incredibly damaging, both physically and psychologically. If you or someone you love has suffered the traumatic experience of sexual abuse, you’re not alone.
What Does a Sexual Abuse Injury Look Like?
Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age or gender. However, many instances of abuse involve adults preying on children. The legal definition varies by state and type, but it’s generally understood that sexual abuse is defined as unwanted contact that crosses both legal and moral lines, including:
- Touching of a sexual nature
- Oral sex
- Taking inappropriate photos of a child
- Showing children explicit images or exposing children to sexually charged language
- Requesting that a minor send or take pictures of themselves in an inappropriate manner
- Exposing oneself to a child
After a scenario of sexual abuse, many survivors report feelings of shame and guilt. Because of the trauma and devastating emotions associated with sexual abuse, they may be at risk for a mental health condition such as:
- Depression. After a sexual abuse by an individual that the survivor was encouraged to trust and respect, many survivors may feel trapped in situation where they are forced to continue being victimized and/or to keep it as a closely guarded secret. They may feel an inability to regain a sense of control over their lives. This can create feelings of deep despair.
- Anxiety. Survivors may experience feelings of danger and begin to fear people, or worry that the attack could reoccur. Panic attacks are common, and some individuals may even feel afraid to leave home.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After the abuse, a survivor may experience intense memories or flashbacks to the assault that become disruptive to daily life.
- Personality disruptions. Sexual abuse can sometimes result in personality disruptions such as borderline personality, as a way to cope with the assault and negatively associated feelings.
- Attachment issues. Many survivors find it difficult to form healthy attachments with others after an assault; this is especially true for children. This can manifest as a struggle with intimacy or forming close attachments.
- Addiction. Many survivors turn to drugs and alcohol to help numb the pain of abuse, which often leads to the development of addictions.
Understanding Sexual Abuse Settlements
Survivors of sexual abuse may feel afraid to pursue litigation, or they may feel too traumatized to revisit the experience. However, although no amount of compensation can erase the devastating effects of a sexual abuse experience, seeking justice for the damages you or a loved one suffered can be a valuable part of the healing process.
What’s the average sexual abuse lawsuit settlement?
Thankfully, many sexual predators are now being prosecuted, from Catholic dioceses to university physicians to Hollywood directors. As a result, sexual abuse survivors are able to see their perpetrators face justice — and they’re also able to receive compensation for their pain and suffering. Of course, the outcome of a settlement is largely dependent on the survivor’s location and the nature of the abuse. However, some recent high-profile case settlements include:
- Catholic dioceses. For years, priests and lay members of religious orders within the Roman Catholic Church were sexually abusing children within their congregations. As a result, the Catholic Church has spent more than $3.8 billion to settle claims of more than 8,600 victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy since the 1980s.
- University of Southern California. Hundreds of women have reported inappropriate sexual behavior as patients of USC physician Dr. George Tyndall. The university has already agreed to pay $215 million to settle a federal lawsuit on behalf of thousands of potential survivors, but many have opted out in order to pursue their claims on an individual basis.
How does a sexual abuse settlement work?
When you’re dealing with the emotional trauma of sexual abuse, it can be hard enough to return to your normal life. Dealing with a legal claim on top of such distress can feel overwhelming to a survivor. Contacting a skilled and experienced lawyer during this difficult time is the best way to pursue your case and maximize your sexual abuse injury settlement. The compensation you may be entitled to includes:
- Past and future medical expenses. If you’ve already accumulated medical costs as a result of your experience, you can potentially be reimbursed for them along with future medical expenses.
- Past and future loss of income. It’s not just physical injuries that can make it difficult or impossible to return to work. Survivors suffer tremendous psychological pain, which often affects their performance on the job.
- Pain and suffering. Not all damages sustained can be seen. The law seeks to address a survivor’s mental and emotional pain in the aftermath of sexual abuse.
Notable Sexual Abuse Settlements and Verdicts for JJS Clients
The nationally recognized trial lawyers of Janet, Janet & Suggs have held perpetrators accountable and helped thousands of survivors of sexual abuse recover compensation for their pain and suffering. We’ve successfully litigated the following high-profile sex abuse cases:
- Johns Hopkins Sexual Abuse Case. JJS secured a $190 million class-action settlement against Dr. Nikita Levy of Johns Hopkins Hospital — one of the largest sexual abuse settlements in U.S. history.
- Penn State University Settlement. JJS lawyers helped a victim harmed by Jerry Sandusky fight for justice in this high-profile case, successfully litigating for a confidential seven-figure settlement.
- Catholic Church Clergy Abuse. Our passionate representation in a case against an abusive Pennsylvania diocese and bishop led not only a significant settlement, but also spurred historic reform in state sexual abuse laws.
Locations We Serve
As a nationally recognized law firm, JJS is proud to serve sexual assault survivors and their families all over the country — including Baltimore, Chicago, Columbia, NYC, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Charlotte and Des Moines. Our sexual assault attorneys have recovered considerable compensation and provided justice to many suffering from the trauma of sexual abuse.
How JJS Can Help with Your Sexual Abuse Case
If you’re a survivor of sexual abuse, you’ve been through an incredibly traumatic experience. This type of abuse is physically, emotionally and psychologically damaging, which is why it’s so critical that you have compassionate support and aggressive representation throughout your case.
The lawyers of JJS will help support you and fight for your rights and protection during this difficult time. Our sexual abuse attorneys are dedicated to seeking justice for your pain and suffering. We’re known for helping our clients win their cases and holding the victimizers accountable.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case. We’ll help you decide the next steps in your case so that you and your family can focus on healing.
Were You a Patient of USC’s Dr. George Tyndall?