How to Report Sexual Abuse in Pennsylvania

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

Victims of sexual abuse and assault suffer not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Many survivors are angry, scared, and ashamed. Often reporting or dealing with an incident of sexual assault or abuse is difficult. The compassionate attorneys and staff at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin understand the pressures associated with pursuing criminal charges. Our office also represents survivors who want to file a personal injury lawsuit against their assailant. Below, our Pennsylvania institutional sexual abuse lawyer reviews how to report an incident of abuse.

Steps to Take to Report Sexual Abuse Pennsylvania

If you are in immediate danger, you should contact 911. If there is no imminent threat of physical injury, then you should seek medical treatment and report the incident to your local police. You could also contact a sexual abuse help hotline or agency to review your options and provide guidance through this difficult time.

Depending on what jurisdiction you are in, a police report could be made by contacting your local district or by making a report at the police station in person. There are support services available for victims of sexual assault that provide survivors advocates to accompany them while reporting the assault.

Once a report is made, the victim of assault must decide whether to press charges against their assailant. In many cases, this is the most intimidating part of the process. However, even if you do not pursue charges, the complaint you filed will remain on your assailant’s record should they commit another crime in the future.

Seeking Medical Attention After a Sexual Assault in Pennsylvania

If you suffered injuries after a sexual assault or abuse, you should seek medical treatment. Even if there are no apparent physical injuries to your body, there might be valuable evidence a doctor could preserve. Before seeking medical treatment, you should avoid washing or taking a shower.

Typically, a nurse will tend to any injuries that require immediate treatment. While you will be asked some typical questions regarding your medical history, you should also provide as much detailed information about the assault as possible. It is crucial to be as specific as possible so your nurse knows what areas of your body to examine.

If you are being treated for sexual abuse injuries, a physician will do a complete body examination, taking swabs of the areas of your body where your assailant likely left DNA samples. With a victim’s permission, photographs might be taken of any physical injuries, cuts, or bruises. Because your clothing could contain critical evidence, it might be confiscated and taken as evidence. Your doctor will likely schedule follow-up treatment and examinations. Documenting your injuries will be crucial in developing a criminal case and serve as valuable evidence if you pursue a civil lawsuit.

Criminal Cases Versus Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Abuse

Once a police report is filed, the state could prosecute a sexual abuser. Criminal cases are focused on punishing the defendant. In Pennsylvania, a defendant in a sexual abuse case faces possible jail time, having to register as a sex offender, and other penalties.

Victims of sexual abuse are also entitled to file a civil lawsuit against their assailant. Unlike a criminal prosecution, the focus of a civil lawsuit is to seek monetary compensation for your financial losses and pain and suffering. You are permitted to file a civil lawsuit whether you pressed criminal charges or not. In cases where criminal charges were pressed, a defendant does not have to be convicted for you to pursue your claim in civil court. Because the burden of proof is significantly higher in a criminal proceeding, it is often possible to win a civil lawsuit despite a not guilty verdict.

There is a time limit to file a civil lawsuit after an incident of sexual abuse. If you were an adult at the time of the attack, then you have two years from the incident of the abuse to file your lawsuit. In cases where the victim of sexual abuse was a minor, then the survivor has twelve years from their eighteenth birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit. Our Pennsylvania attorney for victims of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church, school, or other institution understands that it is not always possible to bring an immediate lawsuit. However, the longer you wait, the more challenging your case will become due to the likelihood of vital evidence being lost or no longer available.

Damages Available in a Sexual Abuse Case in Pennsylvania

As stated above, when you file a civil lawsuit, you are seeking monetary compensation. In Pennsylvania, you are entitled to recover for your financial losses. Any expense related to the abuse and injury could be included, such as medical expenses, the cost of ongoing therapy, or lost income if you could not work because of the abuse.

You could also recover for your pain and suffering. Our Pennsylvania sexual abuse victims attorney will carefully and thoroughly evaluate the impact the abuse had on your physical well-being and emotional welfare. A survivor of abuse should be compensated for the mental distress they endured.

Typically, the compensation you are awarded will be directly related to your injuries. However, in some cases, a court could award punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant for extremely malicious, reckless, and intentional conduct. While rare in most personal injury claims, a victim of sexual assault has a greater chance of being awarded punitive damages due to the nature of the offense. Our Pennsylvania workplace sexual abuse lawyers can help you through this if you were sexually abused at work or other institution.

Contact Our Pennsylvania Attorney for Sexual Abuse Victims to Confidentially Review Your Options

Surviving sexual assault or abuse is difficult. No victim should face those hurdles alone. The attorneys and staff at The Law Offices of Andrew Shubin are devoted to offering our clients discrete, professional, and sympathetic representation. If you are a survivor of sexual assault or are a family member of a victim of sexual abuse of the intellectually impaired in Pennsylvania, you have the right to seek compensation through a civil lawsuit in addition to pressing criminal charges. Call (814) 826-3586 to schedule a free, confidential appointment to review your rights.


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