Sexual abuse, a deeply traumatic experience, leaves lasting scars on its victims. This complex issue encompasses a range of unlawful acts, from physical violations to psychological manipulations. Victims often grapple with a mix of emotional and physical repercussions. Effectively dealing with the aftermath of such trauma often includes seeking accountability by speaking with an experienced sexual abuse attorney.

What Constitutes Sexual Abuse?

In Florida, sexual abuse is any non-consensual sexual act or behavior towards an individual. This includes, but is not limited to, rape, sexual assault, and sexual battery. It encompasses a broad spectrum of unwanted sexual activities, ranging from touching without consent to more severe forms of assault. The law also recognizes that consent cannot be given under certain circumstances, such as when the victim is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is mentally incapacitated, or is below the age of consent, which in Florida is 18 years old. Additionally, sexual harassment, which can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, falls under this category. Understanding these legal definitions is essential for victims to recognize their experiences as abuse and seek appropriate legal recourse.

Your Rights as a Victim

As a victim of sexual abuse in Florida, you have specific legal rights designed to protect and empower you. First, you have the right to report the abuse to law enforcement. This step can initiate a criminal investigation into the incident. You also have the right to confidentiality during these proceedings, ensuring your privacy is respected. Victims are entitled to seek a protective order against their abuser, which can provide a layer of safety. 

Furthermore, you have the right to pursue civil litigation, which can offer a path to monetary compensation for damages suffered due to the abuse. This includes compensation for medical expenses, counseling, and emotional distress. Additionally, Florida law ensures victims have access to victim advocacy services, which can provide valuable support and guidance throughout the legal process.

How to Report Sexual Abuse

Reporting sexual abuse is a crucial step towards justice and recovery. In Florida, you can report abuse by contacting your local law enforcement agency directly. This can be done by calling 911 in emergencies or the non-emergency number for less immediate situations. Additionally, victims can visit a police station in person to file a report. It’s important to provide as much detail as possible about the incident, including the identity of the perpetrator if known, and any evidence such as texts or emails. For support and guidance, consider contacting a local sexual assault response center or a hotline like RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). They can assist in the reporting process and offer emotional support.

The Legal Process for Sexual Abuse Cases

In Florida, the legal process for sexual abuse cases encompasses both criminal and civil pathways, offering different forms of justice and restitution for victims. When an incident of sexual abuse is reported, law enforcement initiates an investigation, potentially leading to criminal charges. This criminal process primarily focuses on prosecuting the perpetrator for their crimes.

Simultaneously or independently, victims have the option to pursue a civil lawsuit against their abuser. This civil action is distinct from the criminal case and aims to compensate the victim financially. In a civil lawsuit, the focus is on the harm suffered by the victim rather than the punishment of the offender. Victims can seek damages for medical expenses, counseling, lost wages, and pain and suffering endured due to the abuse. 

The burden of proof in a civil case is generally lower than in a criminal trial, meaning that even if a criminal case does not result in a conviction, a civil suit may still be successful. This path offers a powerful avenue for victims to attain recognition of their trauma and financial restitution, aiding in their healing. 

How We Can Help You

At Lehrman Law, we are dedicated to supporting victims of sexual abuse with compassionate and effective legal assistance. Our experienced team understands the complexities of these sensitive cases and works to ensure your rights are protected and that you receive rightful compensation for the trauma you’ve endured. 

All attorneys and staff at Lehrman Law have received training and are certified Trauma Informed Care Legal Professionals, a credential issued by the National Center for Equity & Agency. Our trauma-informed care training helps us to communicate with sexual assault survivors to prevent inadvertent retraumatization, to support healing, and to obtain justice.

We provide personalized guidance through the legal process, from initial consultation to courtroom representation. Beyond legal advocacy, we offer emotional support and connect you with resources for healing and recovery. At Lehrman Law, you are not just a case number; you are a person deserving of justice and respect, and we are committed to being your ally in this challenging journey.

Contact an Experienced Florida Sexual Assault Attorney

If you’ve been impacted by sexual abuse, contact the attorneys at Lehman Law for compassionate support and skilled legal guidance. We’re committed to listening to your story and helping you navigate your path to justice.