Victims’ “justice” paths following a sexual assault might be highly diverse. Some persons may file criminal charges and civil lawsuits for money damages and civil protection orders and complaints with their universities or other educational institutions.
A few victims may decide against any of these options at all. In addition to gaining a sense of justice, victims of sexual assault may seek advice on how to care for their mental well-being and work toward healing from the trauma they have experienced.
These legal options are available to you if you have been a victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault.
File a criminal charge
Victims of sexual assault may want the prosecutor to file criminal charges against the perpetrators. You may do this with the assistance of sex offense attorneys. If there is adequate evidence, the prosecutor will file a criminal prosecution after receiving a police report from the victim who reported the crime.
Sexual violence offenses, such as rape and sexual assault, have varying legal definitions and time limits in each state. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) gives information on how to report to law authorities and what to anticipate from a criminal prosecution, which may assist you in deciding whether or not to submit a complaint.
Apply for monetary damages in civil litigation.
Legal action against the perpetrator of sexual abuse may be an option for certain survivors of sexual assault. Unlike a criminal inquiry, a civil suit is a private legal action that you begin. When it comes to civil lawsuits, the burden of proof is often less than in criminal proceedings (beyond a reasonable doubt).
If you are the victim of sex crimes, you may bring a civil suit to recover damages for your losses and injuries, as well as punitive damages.
Even if you win a civil complaint, it might take years to resolve the case. All survivors don’t always prefer a criminal trial, and some may choose civil lawsuits instead. As a result of the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs’ efforts, they’ve put up a handbook for survivors on how to file a civil case.
File a civil protection order
Sexual assault victims may opt to seek a civil protection order as one method of protection to keep the attacker away and restrict any contact. The culprit has the right to be present in a hearing in which a temporary order is given (ex parte) before a final decision is made.
File a complaint at educational institutions
For-profit schools, charter schools, libraries, and museums are all subject to a slew of federal rules requiring them to make efforts to protect students and staff from sexual assault and abuse. Suppose you are enrolled in school and report an allegation of sexual assault to the school.
In such instances, federal law mandates that your institution have specified policies and procedures for addressing complaints of sexual assault, including a mechanism to investigate and penalize alleged perpetrators of sexual violence. The educational institution where you are a student must provide you with emotional, medical, and academic help and accommodations after a reported incidence of sexual assault.
Survivors who seek a quick conclusion (in comparison to a civil or criminal case) or do not want to go through the criminal court system may opt to register complaints with their educational institutions. Complaints of sexual abuse in schools must be handled within months, and schools must implement interim measures like no-contact orders between the victim and the offender to assist in settling the problem.
A school’s response to a claim of sexual assault, the training offered to those in charge, and how harsh a penalty for the culprit might vary greatly from school to school. A counselor, advocate, or lawyer may be a good option if you’re still unsure if you should go to your school’s administration with your concerns about the way things are going.