Sexual Assault Lawyers

Being impacted by sexual assault can feel lonely and isolating, making it incredibly difficult to seek the support you need, much less the justice you deserve. At Bachus & Schanker, our team recognizes that it takes an incredible amount of bravery to come forward and seek guidance after experiencing sexual assault.

The fact that you are seeking help and justice is a testament to your strength and resilience in the face of unimaginable pain. Whether you are here because someone you know has been through this unthinkable tragedy or because it personally happened to you, please know that it isn’t your fault, and you do not have to go through this painful journey alone. 

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Specific Types Of Sexual Assault

While the trauma of such an experience can be overwhelming and can have profound effects on your mental and emotional well-being, it’s important to keep in mind that sexual assault does not define you, and there are resources available for you to seek guidance and support.

What Is Sexual Assault?

Over the past decades, society has unfortunately pushed a narrative that sexual assault has a specific look to it and occurs to a particular type of person. In reality, this misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. Sexual assaults take on many forms, can happen to anyone, especially the most vulnerable in our society, and can have varying impacts on survivors.

In its most basic form, sexual assault is any behavior or sexual contact that occurs without the explicit consent of the victim.

Recognizing When And If A Sexual Assault Has Occurred 

If you are unsure whether you have experienced a sexual assault, it’s important to understand the circumstances of what did and did not happen. Understandably, for you and many other sexual assault survivors, blocking out, denying, or ignoring past events can be a coping mechanism for dealing with the unimaginable trauma following an assault. It’s incredibly difficult to confront this kind of pain, so please be kind to yourself as you try to navigate this unfortunate time.

In almost all cases, it’s important to remember that sexual violence almost never has to do with the sexual act itself but with the power and control a perpetrator feels during the assault. 

The following is a list of factors to consider when determining if an event was a sexual assault:

  • Being subjected to unwanted or forced sexual contact or behaviors. 
  • Experiencing threats or being in a state of fear if you do not comply with a perpetrator’s sexual advancements.
  • Being exposed to a fraudulent representation that a sexual act serves a professional purpose.

Additionally, sexual assault can occur if you cannot consent to the act in the first place. This includes:

  • Being asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that the sexual act is occurring
  • Being impaired by any drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance, and that condition is known or reasonably should be known by the person.
  • Experiencing a mental disease or defect, or physical disability which is known or reasonably should be known by the perpetrator.

Types Of Sexual Assault

Victims of sexual assault come from all walks of life. While anyone can be a victim of a sexual assault, studies have shown some trends showing who is at higher risk.

According to data compiled by the Assault Survivors Advocacy Program, throughout the state of Colorado, 1 in 4 women will have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime, while 1 in 17 men will have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

Additionally, 87% of sexual assaults are committed by perpetrators that the victim knows; this perpetrator is, unfortunately, often a close family friend or family member.

While sexual assaults can take on many forms and happen in various settings, sexual assaults all take on similar unwanted sexual advances. Common types of sexual assaults include: 

  • Unwanted sexual touches
  • Attempted rape
  • Rape, including unwanted sexual contact in a relationship
  • Forcing a victim to perform a sexual act 

Specific individuals are also at a higher risk of sexual assault. These are individuals who may be most vulnerable and who predatory individuals may take advantage of and abuse. Sadly, an overwhelming 90% of individuals with developmental disabilities will experience a sexual assault. Among these individuals, there are also other types of sexual assault that predators commit against vulnerable individuals including:

Immigrant Sexual Assault

Immigrant victims, both those who are documented and those who are not, face unique challenges regarding sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and any other sexual misconduct. These challenges often make it very difficult for them to report the abuse even if they want to. Due to these challenges, it is common that immigrant victims of sexual assault will usually decide to not speak up against their abusers.

LGBTQ+ Sexual Assault

Members of the LGBTQ community are also subjected to higher rates of sexual assaults as compared to other populations. According to the data, 46% of bisexual women have been raped, compared to 17% of heterosexual women and 13% of lesbians. Comparatively, 40% of gay men and 47% of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence, compared to 21% of heterosexual men.

Child Abuse

Child sexual abuse describes any unwanted sexually motivated contact at the hands of an abuser. Abusers can be both adults and other children. Child sexual abuse takes on many forms and can happen to any child regardless of their socioeconomic status, where they live, ethnicity, race, or economic background.

Common Places Where Sexual Assault Happens

Sexual assaults are not defined to a specific location; however, they are more likely to occur in certain settings than others. In the survey conducted by the nonprofit group Stop Street Harassment, researchers looked closely at common places where sexual assaults occurred. Their study has sadly found that 81% of women and 43% of men have experienced at least one instance of sexual assault in their lifetime.

Public Spaces

Both men and women ranked public spaces, including a street, a park, a movie theater, a restaurant, etc., as being the location of where their sexual assault took place. 38% of women say they were sexually assaulted in public, while 27% of men said the same.

Private Homes

Private homes and residences were ranked as the second most common location by women, with 21% saying this was where their sexual assault took place. For male victims, private homes and residences were ranked as number four, with 14% saying this is where their assault took place.

Workplace Harassment

The workplace was ranked as the third location, with 13% of women saying this is where their sexual assault occurred. This type of behavior takes on many forms but can include unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or any other type of verbal or physical conduct that is for the sexual satisfaction of your harasser. When this type of behavior occurs in the workplace, it is deemed workplace sexual harassment.

School Setting

Educational instructors are essential members of a community because they help guide, teach, and shape minds, young and old. So when an instructor sadly abuses their position of power and violates you or their other students, it’s crucial they are brought to justice as quickly as possible. 17% of men reported that their sexual assault occurred in school (between preschool and 12th grade). This location was the second most common place for male victims who experienced sexual assault. 

Massage Parlors

When you are receiving massage therapy, you are in a vulnerable position during the treatment. Because of the nature of massage therapy, it may be difficult for you to determine whether or not a therapist has inappropriately touched you. Understanding whether an experience at a massage parlor is sexual assault is the first step in identifying the abuse so you can report it. Every year, customers at massage parlors fall victim to sexual predators who work in these facilities.

Rehab Centers

Rehab sexual abuse refers to any abuse that happens at the hands of a facility staff member or another facility resident. Rehab facilities are unique environments where individuals are at their most vulnerable as they seek out help and healing. Predators can be either staff members of the facility or other clients who receive services from the rehabilitation center. Unfortunately, the unique nature of a rehab facility makes it easy for a predator to exploit this trust and vulnerability.

Uber And Lyft Rideshare Rides

With the popularity of ridesharing programs on the rise across the nation, unfortunately, so too is the rate of victims being sexually assaulted while they are in a vehicle with a rideshare driver. Uber and Lyft sexual assaults occur at the hands of drivers and even other passengers themselves. According to recent data in an NBC News report, “Uber reported 141 incidents of rape and 998 incidents of sexual assault overall in 2020, even as the business was crippled by the ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic and ridership plummeted.”

Religious Institutions

Sexual Abuse at religious institutes happens — a place where we are supposed to feel safe, cared for, and loved. Victims are often groomed by their predators and made to feel that the events they have experienced are not sexual in nature and do not constitute sexual abuse. Church leaders may take advantage of vulnerable individuals to satisfy their own sexual desires.

Warning Signs Of Sexual Assault

Unfortunately, as a victim of sexual assault, you can experience unsurmountable fear following the assault. Because of this, you or other victims might not vocalize that an assault has taken place. This is especially the case for vulnerable individuals such as children.

Although victims might not speak up about their assaults, there are warning signs loved ones can look out for. Common warning signs can include the following:

  • Difficulty walking or sitting 
  • Reluctance to being alone, easily frightened or startled by new people 
  • Nightmares or bedwetting 
  • Feeling unworthy or inadequate
  • Self-harm 
  • Sudden changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Sudden change in personality, especially if a person was very boisterous, active, and talkative before the assault
  • Increase in alcohol or drug use

The age of a sexual abuse survivor can also impact the types of warning signs they might display. For example, if you have young children and begin to notice itching, bruising, bleeding, or unusual discharge in their genital area and/or anus, this should be cause for immediate concern.

What Should You Do If You Were Sexually Assaulted?

If you have unfortunately been the victim of a sexual assault, please know you are not alone. There is hope, and options and resources are available to you in your recovery.

Please consider the following steps after the assault:

Ensure Your Safety

Your first priority should be to seek safety. Seeking safety means different things for different victims. In general, you’ll want to put physical distance between you and your attacker. In some situations, calling the police, telling a trusted adult, or confiding in a friend or family member is a good place to start.

Reach Out For Support

A closeup of two people holding hands, lending support to one another.

Regardless of when your assault took place, reaching out for support is critical. Support comes in all forms and from many different places. This may mean leaning on friends and family. Or contacting health lines, including the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, may be a helpful starting point.

Seek Medical Attention

If you were recently sexually assaulted, you may be reluctant to seek medical attention. While the fear of seeking medical attention is undoubtedly justified, appropriate medical attention is critical for many reasons.

Most importantly, seeking medical attention ensures you receive the necessary medical care. 

Medical professionals can also conduct a rape kit and document bruising, lacerations, and other injuries you may have that can then be used in criminal and civil cases.

Speak With A Professional And Process The Experience

Sexual assault can make you feel isolated, unworthy, and confused, among other valid trauma responses. Working with a therapist who can help you process the event is critical in your journey to healing.

Immediately after an assault, it’s common to feel the urge to disassociate, avoid, and block out the event. While this can help you cope during the fragile moments after an assault, avoidance is not a beneficial response in the long run. Please consider seeking the guidance of a professional who can help you process the trauma.

Consider Your Legal Options

Whether you feel hopeless, ashamed, angry, or confused, it’s important to remember that it isn’t your fault, and you are not alone. There are resources you can tap into, and you are worthy of support. Along with seeking medical attention and psychological help to process your assault, there are legal avenues you can explore to obtain the justice you deserve. The team at Bachus & Schanker can help you explore those avenues.

There are many reasons why you may be reluctant to report your sexual assault. Confiding in an attorney who understands the delicate nature of a sexual assault case can be a helpful avenue to walk down.

Attorneys who are committed to your well-being will help you explore your rights and options. Additionally, they can help simplify the legal process so you can regain control of your well-being and happiness.

Can You Sue Someone For Sexual Assault?

As a sexual assault and sexual violence victim, you have the right to sue your perpetrator over the physical and mental injuries you sustained after an assault.

Criminal vs. Civil Sexual Assault Cases

Perpetrators can face both criminal and civil lawsuits. A criminal charge is interpreted as a crime against the state and will be brought forward by state officials. As a victim of sexual assault, you can file a parallel civil case that seeks restitution for your losses because of the assault. 

While a civil claim will not undo the trauma you have experienced, it can help you reclaim your identity, power, and purpose. You can still proceed with civil law even if a criminal lawsuit fails against a perpetrator.

Who Can Be Held Responsible For Sexual Assault?

Filing a civil lawsuit following sexual assault is not as cut and dry as you may think, and you can name more than just the perpetrator as a defendant.

The individual who actually conducted the attack can certainly be held liable following an assault. However, if any other individuals enabled the attack or were negligent in a way that allowed it to occur, they can also be held liable.

For example, if the assault occurred in the workplace or a school setting, the employer or school district can be held responsible if they were negligent in such a way that allowed the attack to occur, regardless of whether the negligence was reckless or intentional.

Businesses have a duty to protect the safety and well-being of you and other visitors. If a company breaches this duty, they can be held liable for sexual assaults that occur on its property.

What Is The Statute Of Limitations On Sexual Assault In Colorado?

Unlike other crimes, sexual assaults fall under a unique umbrella because of the type of assault they are, the damages they cause, and the lasting impact it has on you and the many different kinds of victims it occurs to. For this reason, the statute of limitations for sexual assault is more forgiving than other violations.

As states across the nation begin to understand the complex and traumatizing events that follow sexual assault, many states have begun amending their statute of limitations regarding sexual assault civil claims.

In 2019, Governor Jared Polis Signed into law two bills that would remove the statute of limitation for sexual assault survivors seeking to file civil claims. The law also gives minors more legal options when pursuing a civil sexual assault claim.

What Kinds of Damages Might I Be Entitled To For My Sexual Assault Claim In Colorado?

When filing a civil lawsuit, you can seek damages intended to compensate you for your pain, suffering, and financial losses. You can hold your abuser responsible for paying for your:

  • Hospitalization bills and medical expenses
  • Treatments intended to address your psychological or emotional damage
  • Physical disfigurement
  • Physical and emotional scars
  • Mental anxiety, trauma, emotional distress, pain, and suffering
  • Expenses related to relocation 
  • Lost wages while recovering 
  • Any other financial losses directly related to the assault.

What Can Sexual Assault Lawyers In Colorado Do For You?

A sexual assault lawyer in a meeting with a sexual assault victim client

Even if your sexual assault case is criminally prosecuted by the state, seeking a civil lawsuit can prove invaluable to your healing. If you have unfortunately been the victim of a sexual assault, taking legal action can be a step forward in rebuilding the life you deserve. Although the legal process can feel daunting, it can also provide you with a sense of closure.

Sources:

NCTSN.

NSVRC.

RAINN (2023).

Sexual Violence (2022).

10 U.S. Code § 920 – Art. 120. Rape and sexual assault generally.

2018 Study on Sexual Harassment and Assault.

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