Sexual assault lawyers from around the country came together during Sexual Assault Awareness month to discuss ways the civil court system can provide compensation and healing to victims of sexual assault and how lawyers can better protect our clients through the process. Attorney Melissa Hague had the honor and privilege of leading discussions on a number of topics that can add to the complexity of sexual assault cases, such as the understandable and natural tendency of victims of sexual assault for self-blame, how to deal with societal biases, the importance of having a relationship of trust with clients, and how to prosecute a sexual assault claim in a way that maintains a client’s confidentiality to the fullest extent possible.
Two out of three sexual assaults are never reported to the police and only 1.9% of those that are reported result in the perpetrator being incarcerated. However, many states offer civil remedies for assault victims, and the burden of proof (what a plaintiff must show to win) in a civil case is much lower than in a criminal case. In the civil arena, that burden is a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning only 51% of the evidence needs to weigh in favor of the victim.
Incidences of sexual assault are extremely painful experiences and confidentiality is of the utmost importance. For many victims, filing a lawsuit is synonymous with shame and fear of judgment over sharing something deeply personal. Because of those concerns, a large portion of the discussions among the participants in the conference centered around the different mechanisms the civil justice system has in place to protect the identity of assault victims and the details of the assault incident. Although cases involving sexual assault are a difficult process for victims, they can also become part of the healing process. In addition to holding the perpetrator accountable, civil remedies can help victims heal by providing them resources for therapy and resources they may need to move or get a new job.
If you think you may have been sexually assaulted, you can find support from online.rainn.org or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673).
If you want to find out what options you have to get justice through the legal process, we are here to answer your questions. All conversations and meetings are confidential and will not cost you anything. Whether or not you decide to file a claim is entirely up to you. Regardless of whether your attacker was charged with a crime, Melissa can help you get justice through the civil court system.
You can reach Melissa Hague any time at our offices by calling or contact her by filing out the form below and she will respond to your message within 24 hours. All calls and information provided on the below form are strictly confidential between you and Melissa.