Breaking the Silence on Sexual Violence in Seattle
Despite the media’s sensational headlines and by-lines spotlighting sexual violence allegations pointing to organized religion, the Boy Scouts of America, sports heroes, prominent campus coaches, politicians, and Hollywood moguls, sexual violence shows no signs of abating. The entire legal team at Boohoff Law echo these sentiments:
“One rape is one too many, one assault is one too many, one aggressive act of harassment is one too many, one person denied due process is one too many.”
As personal injury attorneys experienced in dealing with the highly sensitive and personal issues associated with sexual trauma, we understand the reluctance to come forward. At a time when a survivor of a sexual violent attack feels the most violated, privacy becomes more than a basic need. It becomes a lifeline to normalcy.
But if someone sexually assaulted or abused you or your child—whether a priest, coach, other trusted figure, or a stranger—please call Boohoff Law. You have a limited time in which to take action unless you experienced sexual abuse as a child, but if you’re ready to talk, we want to hear your story and see if we can help you.
The Civil Court System Can Also Form a Lifeline
Every 92 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Sexual violence is a pervasive problem and not just a crime against women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “More than one in three women and nearly one in four men have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact at some point in their lives. Nearly one in five women and one in 38 men have experienced completed or attempted rape in their lifetimes.”
Out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, only five lead to criminal convictions; the majority will not serve time. Our criminal justice system makes no provisions for perpetrators (or responsible third parties) to face financial liability to survivors, but our civil courts do.
We remember Eli Sanders’s Pulitizer prize-winning narrative “The Bravest Woman in Seattle” (read the full text here), detailing a 2009 sexual assault crime in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood. Two women were tortured, stabbed, and raped in their own home when a man climbed in through an open window. Only one survived, and she bravely shared her story in the name of justice.
Every survivor will recover in his or her own way, and in their own time. We understand the struggle to overcome the overwhelming feelings of humiliation, shame, and guilt. When the time is right, there will be some who will find the courage to step forward and disclose the painful truth. When survivors feel the need to reclaim control of their life, initiating litigation can be empowering. Holding responsible parties accountable is often therapeutic, and can be an important part of the recovery process. A civil lawsuit may bring much-needed closure when survivors can seek accountability, a measure of justice, a modicum of satisfaction, and financial compensation. A civil suit, for some, can be restorative justice.
The Physical, Psychological and Social Effects of Sexual Violence
The effects of sexual violence impact not only the survivor, but his or her social relationships with family, intimate partners, friends, and co-workers. Marriages end, and careers and educational pursuits are put on hold. The physical effects of sexual violence will heal with proper and immediate medical attention, but emotional trauma is often overwhelming and can last a lifetime.
Some of the physical effects of sexual assault include:
- Unwanted pregnancy
- Gynecological complications
- Sexually transmitted infections
Psychological consequences of sexual violence include:
- Eating disorders
- Difficulty concentrating
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Substance abuse
- Attempted or completed suicide
- Diminished interest or avoidance of sex
- Low self-esteem/self-blame
Emotional reactions to a violent sexual assault include:
- Guilt, shame, self-blame
- Fear, distrust
- Lack of control
- Shock, disbelief
The social impact of sexual violence includes:
- Strained relationships with family, friends, and intimate partners
- Less emotional support from friends and family
- Less frequent contact with friends and relatives
- Lower likelihood of marriage
State Specific Statistics
Here are some facts about sexual violence and abuse in Seattle and Washington.
- In 2017, Community Sexual Assault Programs in Washington served 13,398 primary victims of sexual assault and 9,175 secondary sexual assault victims
- A national survey of Washingtonians between 2010-2012 found that 45 percent of women and 22 percent of men have experienced sexual violence during their lifetime
- In 2016, 17.7 percent of 10th graders in Washington reported that they had been made to engage in unwanted kissing, sexual touch or intercourse
- 80 percent of Washington women’s sexual assault experiences occurred before age of 18
- More than 33 percent of women in Washington State have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime
- Almost 20 percent of these women have been the victims of multiple assaults by different offenders
- Only about 25 percent of the women who suffered physical injuries sought medical assistance, and only 33 percent sought counseling
Damages for Sexual Assault and Abuse
Financial compensation is generally based on the physical and emotional harm the victim suffered and will continue to suffer, as a result of the assault. Civil action against a third party is possible when the assault happened in the workplace, school, or long term care facility, based on:
- Negligent supervision
- Failure to provide adequate security
The amount of financial compensation awarded will often take into consideration:
- Costs associated with any personal care required during recovery
- Travel expenses directly related to the assault
- Loss of income
- Compensation for pain and mental anguish
Some factors the courts will consider in assessing damages for pain and suffering are:
- The nature of the acts
- The duration of the assault
- The relationship between the perpetrator and the victim
- Breach of trust
- The age of the victim
- The impact the assault has on the victim’s education or career
The skilled, highly trained, and experienced sexual abuse attorneys at Boohoff Law have the resources to thoroughly investigate every nuance of each client’s personal story to determine the appropriate course of action. Every client is treated with respect and dignity. Those survivors who are ready to tell their story can contact our office at (877) 999-9999. We are always ready to listen.
Perception Becomes Reality
In the court of public opinion, the believability of a survivor’s story will often depend on how he or she acts following the incident. One of the most common ways those who have been sexually violated react is to simply say or do nothing. Why? Maybe out of fear, maybe out of disbelief, maybe to simply forget. A victim may be afraid of the attention, investigation, and scrutiny they could encounter by reporting the assault.
Historically, people often have difficulty understanding why anyone would choose silence over immediately seeking justice. Emotions are heightened at extremely volatile moments, and then the brain’s natural protective properties take over. Dissociation is the escape of the mind from the body in times of extreme stress, sense of powerlessness, pain, and suffering. What may seem, to some, to be inconsistencies in the way a survivor reacts, is often typical and predictable behavior. Those who experience sexual violence may not always be able to make decisions to protect themselves. It is entirely possible for a victim:
- To not report anything or delay reporting
- To not be able to recall details of the event
- To have large gaps in memory
- To have inconsistencies in memory
- To struggle with decision making
- To show no physical evidence of injury
- To be unable to identify the perpetrator
- To have no apparent emotional expression
- Blame themselves for the assault,
- Have a relationship with the perpetrator after the assault
- Deny or minimize the experience
Unfortunately, this makes it substantially harder to ensure victims receive the protections they need and that perpetrators are held accountable. A good attorney, however, can help you to overcome these obstacles to finding justice.
Sexual Crimes Against Children Are Crimes of Opportunity
Statistics concerning child and teen sexual abuse are hard to read, and even harder to comprehend.
- Every nine minutes a child is sexually assaulted
- In 2016 alone 57,329 children were victims of sexual abuse
- 34 percent were under age 12
- 66 percent were ages 12 to 17
The effects of child sexual abuse are long-lasting and can reach into adulthood with catastrophic effects. As adults, victims of childhood abuse are:
- About four times more likely to develop a substance abuse problem
- About four times more likely to experience PTSD
- About three times more likely to experience a major depressive episode
Every child’s coping skills are different when the unthinkable happens. Some of the more common effects of sexual abuse in a child are:
- Self-Injurious Behavior (cutting, self-mutilation)
- Fear and anxiety.
- Substance Abuse
- Hypersexualized behavior
- Paranoia, hallucinations or brief psychotic episodes
- Mood fluctuations
- Anger and irritability
Sexual Violence From a Healthcare Professional
An investigation by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, published in 2016, found widespread sexual abuse accusations in the medical profession. The investigation found a regulatory system protecting physicians from accountability and allowing them to keep their medical license and continue treating patients by simply entering into an impaired physician program.
Sexual assault by a healthcare provider is inexcusable behavior and never acceptable. Physical touch is a routine part of every medical examination, but when it is unwarranted, offensive, or unauthorized, it is a breach of trust in the patient-provider relationship.
Sexual Violence at the Hands of a Cleric
Although the indiscretions of Roman Catholic priests receive a good deal of media coverage, sexual violence at the hands of a cleric is an ecumenical social issue. Religious sexual predators from all denominations have been accused of sexual misconduct. Priests, pastors, reverends, and preachers can manipulate vulnerable individuals who have sought them out for counseling and spiritual guidance. They are often able to convince the parishioners they are responsible for the sexual contact.
Sexual Abuse by a Law Enforcement Professional
dSexual assault by police officers and law enforcement officials is a growing concern across the country. In all probability, most of us have heard allegations of police officers leveraging their positions of authority to intimidate suspects and use force to sexually assault a victim.
Members of law enforcement should be held to the highest ethical standards. The Cato Institute’s National Police Misconduct Project found that sexual misconduct is the second greatest of all civilian complaints nationwide against a police officer. An investigational study reviewed five years worth of data from 41 states concerning allegations of police sexual misconduct. The report revealed almost 1,000 officers were decertified, or lost their badges, for sex offenses and extorting citizens into performing sexual favors to avoid arrest.
Sexual Violence While in Service to the Country
Sexual violence is a problem among members of the Armed Forces. Recent data tells us:
- Sexual violence remains pervasive. In 2018 20,500 members of the armed forces (13,000 women and 7,500 men) were sexually assaulted
- Of women who reported a penetrative sexual assault, 59 percent were assaulted by someone with a higher rank and 24 percent were assaulted by someone in their chain of command
- 76.1 percent of victims did not report the crime in 2018
- 64 percent of women who reported a sexual assault face retaliation
- 66 percent of retaliation reports alleged that retaliators were in the reporter’s chain of command
The Legal Process Has Powerful Psychological Benefits
At Boohoff Law we know how difficult this time can be for you. We are empathetic and sympathetic, and we understand no matter how many times you tell your story, it never sounds as bad as it feels. Having a legal advocate is a step in the right direction toward conquering the trauma. It is a decisive statement that lets your friends, family, and community know you are ready to move on with your life, and you also want your attacker to be held accountable. When you are ready to stand and be heard, having a legal advocate stand with you and ensure your rights are protected is a means to restorative justice.
Call Our Sexual Abuse Lawyers for Help
Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the consent of the recipient. Sexual assault occurs when a person is forced, coerced, or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity. Sexual assault is never your fault. Contact us today or dial (877) 999-9999 to protect your rights.