Anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse or assault has the right to sue their perpetrator for monetary damages. Texas law allows survivors of unwanted sexual contact to initiate civil action, even if they never filed a police report or obtained a criminal conviction in the matter.
The decision to report a rape or other form of sexual assault to law enforcement is a deeply personal one. Some victims are fearful that no one will believe them, or are too overwhelmed to relive their trauma. Many survivors of childhood sexual assault cope the only way they know how – by suppressing painful memories, rather than reporting their abuser.
Informing law enforcement is not necessary to file
Everyone processes the experience of sexual abuse differently, but regardless if it happened two years ago or 20 years ago, victims deserve to hold their abusers accountable for their actions. If you are considering filing a civil lawsuit for a past incident of sexual assault, Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP offers compassionate, supportive legal advocacy.
Survivors have the right to seek financial restitution for their pain and suffering, and a Dallas sexual assault victim lawyer can pursue maximum compensation to account for:
- Medical expenses supported by testimony of healthcare professionals
- Psychological therapy and counseling
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of future earnings
- Loss of household services
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Barriers to reporting sexual assault
There is no time limit on when sexual assault victims can report the incident to the police. But, there are numerous reasons victims opt not to come forward about their abuse. A recent study on college sexual assault victims found that while over 70 percent told another person, a mere 6 percent reported the abuse to the police. Victims were more likely to report their attacker to law enforcement if the perpetrator was a stranger, and if they suffered visible physical injuries.
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the following are the most common barriers or concerns to reporting sexual assault:
- The victim knew the perpetrator (true in 60 percent of cases)
- The assault was initiated by a current or past partner
- The victim suffered no physical injuries, and is concerned there is not enough proof
- The victim was raped and did not get a SANE exam at the hospital
- The victim thinks that law enforcement won’t believe them
- The perpetrator attempted the rape or assault but did not finish
- The victim (especially minors) is worried about being disciplined if alcohol or drugs were involved
Potential advantages of reporting your abuse
Discussing the circumstances of your case with a qualified personal injury lawyer who specializes in sexual assault cases is the first step. In certain situations, it may prove beneficial to report the attack to law enforcement, though this is not a prerequisite for seeking justice in a civil case. How can a police report of the sexual assault be advantageous?
- It is concrete evidence that can be used in court to advance your case
- It may help other survivors come forward as well
It’s worth noting that the burden of proof in civil claims is lower than in criminal proceedings. In order to prevail, the jurors must find that it is “more likely than not” that the defendant committed the alleged sexual assault based on a preponderance of the evidence.
Bringing a civil case in Texas
Last year, Texas legislators extended the statute of limitations for civil cases involving child sexual abuse. Victims can file a lawsuit up to 30 years after their 18th birthday, or until the age of 48, for claims of historic sexual assault – regardless if they made an official police report.
Confidential case review with Dallas sexual assault victim lawyers
If you were a victim of assault, know that you are not alone. If you are ready to bring your perpetrator to justice and sue for compensatory damages, Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP has the resources and skill to help. A Dallas personal injury attorney can answer your legal questions and provide clarity on your options moving forward. Please call today for a confidential consultation at no charge.