Damages for Sexual Abuse Survivors: Much More Than a Number

by Frank E. Lamothe, III

It’s impossible to overstate how damaging sexual abuse crimes are for its survivors. These encounters exploit emotional and physical vulnerabilities and create wounds that often fester for years, leaving survivors to grapple with depression, anxiety, and social isolation as they struggle to heal.

Such deep-seated physiological and mental hurdles make it extremely difficult for survivors to report their abuse. However, doing so is vital to pursuing justice and the only way a survivor can secure damages for the crimes committed against them.

Most Sexual Abuse Predators Aren’t Sorry

Sexual abuse predators rarely turn themselves in. Instead, most are caught because they get sloppy or a brave survivor finds the courage to come forward.

Unfortunately, even when apprehended, very few abusers will admit they’ve done anything wrong. Some aren’t even capable of it—and not because they don’t understand the law.

According to one study, most rapists are perfectly capable of recognizing that rape is against the law; they simply don’t believe what they did was rape. There is a disconnect between their actions and the crime. Under these circumstances, many justify their behavior as morally right—or at least not wrong—often arguing the other party endorsed their actions by “getting them aroused” or “leading them on.”

For a survivor looking for an abuser’s regret or apology, this complete lack of remorse can be devastating.

Damages Offer Survivors Much-Needed Validation

Sexual abuse is one of the most underreported crimes. Studies show nearly 70% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police— increasing to 90% on college campuses.

Intense feelings of doubt, guilt, fear, and shame are some of the biggest reasons for this lack of reporting. Survivors worry about losing jobs, friends, and family members if they come forward. Some stay silent because they aren’t even sure what happened. Others fear they won’t be believed, and many who have tried to speak up find themselves ostracized from trusted social circles—or worse.

After so much doubt, criticism, and gaslighting, a formal ruling that supports a survivor’s story can be incredibly healing. These damages help:

• Validate a survivor’s perspective.
• Acknowledge the harm they endured.
• Recognize the emotional impact of this ordeal.
• Reduce the financial burden of recovery.
• Facilitate healing.
• Prevent re-victimization.
• Return a sense of power and control over a survivor’s life.
• Restore a sense of justice.
• Offer a sense of closure.
• Encourage others to report their stories.

Most survivors never get the apology they crave from their abuser, but damages are the next best thing. Recognition from the court can be a powerful healing tool and give survivors the support they need to move beyond that painful chapter.

Damages Give Closure Through Legal Resolution

Damages are about more than just emotional closure. They’re also crucial for legal resolution, physical proof the court has fulfilled its obligation to uphold justice by:

• Compensating survivors.
• Punishing wrongdoers.
• Providing a public record.
• Enforcing laws.
• Establishing legal precedent.
• Empowering other survivors.
• Encouraging community accountability.
• Sending a message to wrongdoers that this behavior won’t be tolerated.

Legal resolution establishes a pattern of common law that educates society, shapes social norms, and helps protect future individuals from becoming survivors in the first place.

Are You Seeking Damages for Sexual Abuse?

It takes a long time to heal from a sexual abuse crime. Damages won’t make everything right, but they can sometimes help with closure.

If you were sexually abused and have questions about pursuing justice, we want to hear from you. Contact the Lamothe Law Firm today for a free consultation, and let our team of highly experienced attorneys help defend your rights with the compassion and sensitivity your story deserves.

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