Colorado Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer

Every parent understands what it means to protect their child from the evils of the world. When tragedy does strike, it can be overwhelming and challenging to navigate. Child sexual abuse is one of the most difficult and complex hardships a family will ever have to navigate. As dedicated and in-tune you are to your children, child sexual abuse does not discriminate and can impact any family through no fault of your own or your child’s.

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If your child was, unfortunately, the victim of child sexual abuse, please know you are not alone in this. Understanding what to do next and how to navigate the road ahead can be overwhelming, but working with a child sexual abuse lawyer can help you understand your options and rights so that you can protect your child even after the unimaginable trauma they have experienced. The Colorado child sexual abuse lawyers at Bachus & Schanker are here to help you along this painful journey. Our Colorado sexual assault lawyers are committed to protecting and serving victims of child sexual abuse and their families.

What Is Child Sexual Abuse?

Few crimes are as evil and sickening as child sexual abuse. If your child has sadly suffered at the hands of an abuser, it is important to know what to look for, as victims may not always be able to speak up for themselves.

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 does not always have to be physical, either. It can be any unwanted sexual activity or conduct a child is forced or unknowingly exposed to.

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 forms of child sexual abuse include the following:

  • Touching, rubbing, or caressing a child
  • Non-sexual behavior, including a perpetrator exposing their genitalia or a victim being coerced to expose their genitalia
  • Manufacturing, viewing, or sharing child pornography
  • Sexually charged and obscene communication with a child online or over the phone
  • Masturbation in the presence of a child
  • Sex trafficking or prostitution of a child
  • Perpetrators sharing sexually charged stories with a child, including personal information that is sexual in nature
  • Unwanted hugging, touching, massaging, kissing, or tickling that is done in a suggestive, sexually charged manner
  • Physical contact with a child that is sexually driven in nature (molestation/rape)
  • Any other physical, verbal, or visual type of contact that is deemed inappropriate behavior or is sexually charged and is intended to physically or psychologically harm the victim

Signs That A Child Has Been Sexually Abused

Child sexual abuse is both physically and emotionally traumatizing. As such, the signs and symptoms can vary and appear to be the result of other issues not related to child sexual abuse. If you are a victim yourself or a parent of a child sexual abuse survivor, please remember you are not alone in this. We are here to help.

There are potential signs to look for so you can continue protecting your child both before and after the abuse has occurred.

Signs of child sexual abuse can be broken down into three categories, physical, emotional, and social. Knowing what to look out for within each of these sections is vital to preventing and stopping abuse.

Physical Signs Of Child Sexual Abuse

  • Bruising or unexpected bleeding around the genital area 
  • Blood stains on bed sheets, underwear, or other clothing 
  • Sexually transmitted diseases 
  • Sudden bedwetting not related to potty training 

Emotional Signs Of Child Sexual Abuse 

  • Sudden changes in eating habits, mood, and personality
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Increased aggression or irritability
  • Inexplicable worry or fearfulness
  • Loss or decrease in appetite
  • Loss or decrease in interests related to school, hobbies, activities, and relationships with friends
  • Onset of nightmares
  • Fears of being alone at night
  • Self-harm behaviors, including cutting, drug use, or suicide ideations

Behavioral Signs Of Child Sexual Abuse

  • Excessive knowledge of sexual topics
  • Sudden increase or sudden decrease in talking
  • Regressive behaviors including thumb sucking, bedwetting, inability to fall asleep, and stranger anxiety
  • Displaying sexual behaviors that are inappropriate for a child’s age
  • Decrease in self-confidence, self-worth, self-esteem, and self-image
  • Increase in health issues, including stomach aches, headaches, and decreased appetite 

Who Might Commit Child Sexual Abuse?

Child sexual abuse predators are not a monolith. Predators can come in many forms and do not take on the conventional stereotype of a creepy adult hiding in a dark corner. Unfortunately, child predators are in public spaces, including schools, daycares, hospitals, churches, and other community spaces.

More often than not, an abuser is, sadly, someone the child knows, usually an individual in a position of power or authority. According to the Community Advocates for Family and Youth (CAFY), perpetrators of sexual abuse are someone your child knows, whether through a community space or a family relative. The CAFY reports the following:

  • 60% of perpetrators are non-relative acquaintances; however, they are known to the child. They can include babysitters, a neighbor, or a friend of the family. 
  • Approximately 30% of children who suffer sexual abuse do so at the hands of a relative such as a father, a cousin, or an uncle.
  • Perpetrators who are complete strangers to a child make up about 10% of child sexual abuse cases.
  • Men are more likely to be child sexual abusers as opposed to women. However, women are perpetrators in about 14% of reported cases of sexual abuse of boys. 
  • With the advancement of technology, more child victims suffer at the hands of online predators. This is done through the use of pornographic images and sexually explicit online communication. 

Where Does Child Sexual Abuse Typically Occur

Because of the nature of this type of crime and the perpetrators involved, child sexual abuse can, unfortunately, happen in both residential spaces and community spaces. Recent data indicates the following:

  • Most child sexual abuse cases occur in a personal residence. 84% of victims under age 12 are victimized in a residence, and 71% of sexual assaults on children aged 12-17 occur in a residence.
  • One in seven cases of sexual assault on children by children occurs during after-school hours between 3:00 and 7:00 p.m.
  • Other locations where child sexual abuse can occur include religious institutes, daycares, and the school setting.

Teaching Your Children To Speak Up

Children are especially vulnerable to abuse because of their inability to speak up after experiencing the abuse. Children can heartbreakingly be groomed by their perpetrator to stay silent, often being threatened with consequences, including an escalation of the abuse if they speak up.

Children might also feel as if they are to blame for the abuse. Because of this, they are more prone to keep quiet so as not to get in trouble. If you are a victim of child sexual abuse yourself, please remember it is not your fault.

Please try to communicate openly with your children so they feel comfortable coming to you if abuse occurs.

Having strong communication with your child looks different for every family. However, you want to have an explicit and intentional conversation with your child about their body, how to protect it, who should and should not be touching their body, and where they should and should not be touched. The younger your children, the more intentional and direct you want to be when teaching them about their bodies.

While it can be an extremely difficult conversation to have with your child, it is an important one because it makes it clear to your child what is right and what is wrong. More importantly, if your child can identify that they are being victimized, they can feel empowered to speak up if it has happened.

You are your child’s biggest advocate, and you are not alone in this. Communicating with your child and displaying clear expectations of how they are to be treated by others is the biggest tool you can empower them with as they navigate their childhood and their life. 

Behaviors In Adults To Be Cautious About When They Are Around Children

This can be a very difficult journey as a parent, but it’s essential to be aware of who is spending time with your child and in what capacity. Because of the power a predator can have over your child, it’s not always easy to distinguish if an individual is a safe adult for your child to be around. There are some red flags you can look for, however.

If you experience any of these behaviors with the adults who spend time with your child, this might be an indication that an inappropriate relationship has developed.

  • Giving gifts, recognition, or special privileges to a child for no apparent reason 
  • Overly friendly, affectionate, or playful with a child. This includes hugging, tickling, wrestling, or having a child sit on their lap
  • Staring or watching a child for a period of time
  • Inappropriate comments about a child’s appearance
  • Exhibits interests similar to your child, interests that typically seem age-inappropriate
  • Seeking out ways to spend one-on-one time with a child. Often, predators may offer free tutoring sessions, music lessons, photography shoots, and other meetings 
  • Predators might often label a child as a liar or dismiss their credibility in an effort to plant doubt if the child ever speaks up about the abuse

What To Do If Your Child Has Been Sexually Assaulted

If you are a victim of sexual abuse or if your child is, it is essential to know what to do and the next steps to take to protect yourself or them from further abuse. Contacting your local authorities ensures the abuser faces criminal charges for their behavior.

While putting a criminal behind bars and having them face the consequences for their actions can help you or your child find peace of mind that the abuse has ended, it does not aid in the recovery both in the short-term and long-term.

This is where filing a civil lawsuit against your child’s predator and any other responsible parties can prove helpful. When you file a civil lawsuit, you can recoup damages for your or your child’s emotional, physical, and mental suffering. This restitution can be put toward your or your child’s healing as they recover both physically and mentally.

How To Report Child Sexual Abuse

If you suspect or know that your child has been sexually abused, you are not alone in this. There are resources for you to turn to. First, contact your local authorities to report the abuse. Authorities will take the next steps in apprehending the perpetrator, collecting evidence, and prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law.

For additional support, please contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE. Service providers will pair you with trained staff members to help you and your child navigate the difficult road to recovery.

You can also fight for your child’s legal rights and understand their options by speaking with an experienced child sex abuse lawyer. A lawyer can help you navigate the healing process as they’ll inform you about your rights and options for seeking restitution for your child’s pain and suffering.

Adults Who Were Sexually Abused As Children

While child sexual abuse is an evil that must be stopped, action can only occur when children report the abuse. Unfortunately, many cases of child sexual abuse go unreported. Often, survivors understandably wait until adulthood to report the abuse and begin the legal process toward healing. If you are a victim of child sexual abuse, please know it’s not too late to report it.

Colorado state recognizes the unique vulnerabilities child sexual abuse victims face. Under the Colorado Senate Bill 88, children are further protected even if it takes them until adulthood to report the abuse. Under this bill, survivors can sue their abusers along with responsible organizations, even if they were previously past the statute of limitations. The bill creates a three-year window (Jan 1, 2022, to Jan 1, 2025) for all lawsuits involving child sexual abuse that occurred in or after 1960.

Child sexual abuse can have compounding long-term side effects well into a victim’s adulthood. The trauma associated with a child’s sexual assault can result in difficulty forming relationships, being intimate with a partner, perception of self-worth, and other issues that keep a victim from living their life to the fullest.

Colorado Senate Bill 88 opens up a 3-year window for anyone abused as a child to bring a case forward about their situation.

Taking legal action, even if it has been years since the abuse occurred, can be pivotal in battling long-term trauma. The team at Bachus & Schanker understands this, and our experienced child sexual abuse lawyers are committed to defending your rights, no matter your age.

How A Colorado Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer Can Help Guide You

After reporting the abuse to authorities, a criminal case will be filed against the perpetrator. While criminal cases are a good place to start, there are still plenty of resources you can tap into to aid in your and your child’s journey of healing. Civil cases allow victims to seek restitution for the abuse they endured as well as the mental and emotional trauma they suffered.

Making the decision to file a child sexual abuse lawsuit can be a painfully overwhelming one. We are so sorry this has happened to you and your family. The team at Bachus & Schanker is dedicated to simplifying the process, so all you have to think about is your and your child’s healing. We are committed to helping you navigate the details of filing and following through on your case, and we will be by your side the entire time.

Sources:

Warning Signs for Young Children. (2023).

Who are the perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse. (2023). 

Child Sexual Abuse Facts & Resources. (2023).

Red Flags of Child Predators. (2019).

National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline. (2023).SB21-088. (2021).

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Written and Legally Reviewed By: Kyle Bachus

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Kyle is a member of the Colorado and Florida Bar associations and has served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association for more than twenty years in total. Over the years, Kyle has achieved justice for many clients. He has served on numerous committees and repeatedly won recognition from his peers at both the state and national level. He is proud of the role he has played in the passage of state and national legislation to protect consumers and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer.