Sexual Assault and Vulnerable Individuals
Victims of sexual assault know how much impact it can have on physical and mental health. While anyone may experience sexual assault in their lifetime, vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly, immigrants, and prisoners, are in a unique position.
These individuals may not have the ability to fight back against an abuser. In some cases, they may be reluctant to do so for fear of reprisal.
The following statistics show how prevalent sexual assault is among these populations:
- A total of 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse
- In the U.S., 28% of youth ages 14–17 have been sexually victimized
- Among elderly individuals, 33.4% reported psychological abuse; 1.9% reported sexual abuse
- Individuals in U.S. immigration detention facilities raised over 33,000 complaints of sexual assault or physical abuse between 2010 and 2016
- In 2018, there were 27,535 allegations of sexual assault in prisons
It is our responsibility to stand up for vulnerable individuals who have been sexually assaulted.
If you are a sexual assault victim or know someone who has been sexually abused, reach out to Melissa Hague, a qualified sexual assault attorney, for a free consultation. She is ready to listen and help you get justice.
What Is Sexual Assault and Abuse?
Sexual assault involves any type of sexual touching or coercion to engage in a sexual act against a person’s will or without their consent. At its root, this type of abuse involves applying power over others to manipulate them sexually.
Examples of sexual assault include:
- Unwanted sexual contact or groping
- Exploitation or trafficking
- Masturbating or exposing oneself in public
- Watching someone engage in private acts without their knowledge
- Sharing of sexual images or pornography against someone’s will
Other activities of a sexual nature may be considered sexual assault if there is no consent given by the individual. To be valid, consent must be given without duress or manipulation and not while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It should be informed and enthusiastic.
What Effects Do Victims of Sexual Assault Experience?
Victims may experience short- and long-term effects of sexual abuse, especially if the abuse was severe.
Individuals should be tested for sexually transmitted infections after the sexual assault occurs and undergo treatment for sexual assault injury. Women who are of child-bearing age should be tested for pregnancy. A local hospital can perform a sexual assault nurse exam (SANE) by specially trained staff. These exams are designed to preserve evidence and can be critical in building a case against a perpetrator.
It’s important for victims of sexual assault to undergo therapy or see a mental health counselor as soon as possible. Counseling can mitigate the potential for severe mental health consequences.
Commonly experienced long-term health impacts can include:
- Disrupted ability to form trusting, meaningful relationships
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Flashbacks, nightmares, and insomnia
- Body aches and fatigue
- Avoidance of thoughts or feelings related to the event
- Resisting conversations about what occurred
- Trouble concentrating and hypervigilance to surroundings
- Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
- Difficulty experiencing positive feelings like joy or satisfaction
- Eating disorders
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Substance use disorders
Those who exhibit these symptoms should seek a therapist who specializes in sexual assault trauma so they can regain control of their lives.
A sexual assault attorney can assist in recouping the medical expenses associated with recovery from trauma.
Why Are Certain Populations More Vulnerable?
Children, the elderly, immigrants, disabled individuals, and prisoners are vulnerable to sexual assault because each is subordinate to those in authority. Children are under the control of parents or other adults. The elderly may have cognitive or physical impairments that require caregivers.
Recent immigrants may not have completed residency requirements and may not have a command of the local language. Prisoners are subject to the authority of guards and law enforcement.
Since vulnerable populations are subjected to caregivers or authorities, they are less likely to report an incident of sexual assault when it occurs. They may fear the repercussions of filing a report or simply not know how to do so. Some may feel that their fate is sealed and let the incident go.
By working with a sexual assault lawyer, you can receive help from someone who is compassionate about fighting for sexual assault victims, including those in vulnerable populations. You’ll be able to tell your story and stop the abuser.
How Can I Help Vulnerable People Seek Help for Sexual Assault?
If you know someone who is vulnerable and you believe they may have been sexually assaulted or abused, it’s important to talk with them if they are willing. Initiate a conversation in safe surroundings and ask them about what has occurred. Discuss any behaviors that seem abnormal to their regular personality.
If you have witnessed a sexual assault happening to a vulnerable individual, contact local police authorities for immediate assistance. You may also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE to speak with an advocate.
If the vulnerable individual cannot file a report on their own or is unwilling, you may speak with a sexual assault lawyer. The lawyer will know if you can file a suit on the victim’s behalf and will advise you on the proper legal steps.
How Can a Sexual Assault Attorney Assist a Victim?
A sexual assault lawyer can compassionately speak with a victim to understand the assault and the circumstances under which it occurred. All consultations with a legal representative are kept 100% confidential and private.
Since sexual assault is such a traumatic and personal experience, it’s crucial to work with an attorney you feel comfortable with. Melissa Hague specializes in helping victims overcome the ordeal they have gone through by helping them pursue their attacker legally.
Victims can achieve justice through a civil lawsuit. A civil case will not result in a criminal sentence but may allow you to collect compensation for damages. You can use monetary damages to cover expenses you’ve incurred for medical treatment, loss of work or income, and emotional distress.
Helping the Vulnerable to Overcome Sexual Assault
Those who have experienced sexual assault have undergone a highly traumatic ordeal. Sexual assault attorney Melissa Hague is dedicated to supporting victims as they move toward healing.
Contact Melissa for a free, confidential consultation today.
She is passionate about helping the vulnerable obtain justice and speak out about their experiences with sexual assault.