There are many different terms people use to describe sexual abuse including:
- sexual assault
Although many people use these terms interchangeably, they actually have different meanings in different jurisdictions. In some states, legislators have replaced the world “rape” with “sexual assault,” shifting the focus of the crime from the sexual aspect to the violent aspect. Still other states use terms like criminal sexual conduct, sexual battery, criminal sexual penetration, and sexual intercourse without consent. It is important to note that not all child sexual abuse includes touching or sexual contact. Sexual abuse can also include indecent exposure of genitals to a child, or using a child to produce child sexual pornography. Additionally, “grooming” of a child, a characteristic of pedophilia, is befriending or establishing an emotional connection with a child to lower their inhibitions for sexual abuse, including using the child for prostitution or the production of child pornography. If you feel a child has been abused, contact our child sexual assault attorneys today.
Characteristics of Sexually Assaulted Children
|Characteristic of Child||Estimate of Sexual Assault Victims||Percent of Sexual Assault Victms||Percent of US Child Population (N=70,172,700)|
Data from National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children. All numbers based on 285,400 total sexual assault victims. *Estimate is based on too few sample cases to be reliable.
What is the difference between child sexual assault and molestation?
Sexual molestation is forcing unwanted sexual behavior by one person on another. The act of “sexual assault” often refers to the specific crime, while the term “molestation” may refer to the event itself or the entire time period during which the abuse took place. Victims can be any age or gender. When the victim is younger than the age of consent, the act is referred to as statutory rape or child sexual assault. A child cannot consent to any form of sexual activity. The perpetrator or offender is referred to as a child molester or sexual abuser. In institutional settings, perpetrators can be teachers, coaches, priests/ pastors, or even health care providers. If you are victim of sexual abuse, you should know that the event was not your fault, and there is nothing to be ashamed about. Victims are entitled to heal and recover from abuse, and an attorney can help victims obtain resource to cope and heal.
Child sexual assault statistics
The prevalence of child sexual assaults is not known because so many victims do not report their abuse. We do know that children suffer sexual abuse much more often than is reported, but how much, we don’t know. Some researchers have suggested rates of reporting varying from 1% to 35%. According to the Children’s Assessment Center of Houston, most experts agree “that there will be 500,000 babies born in the US this year that will be sexually assaulted before then turn 18 if we do not prevent it.” Children are victimized at a much higher rate than adults. Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including adults) occurs in children 17 and under.
Characteristics of a Child Sexual Assault
|Characteristic of Episode||Percent of All Sexual Assault Victims (n=285,400)|
|Car or other vehicle||9|
|Less than 1 hour||42|
|1 hour or longer||46|
|Coercive elements and harm|
|Perpetrator used weapon||10*|
|Child was abducted||23|
|Child was injured||17|
|Day of week|
|Monday through Thursday||12|
|Time of day|
What are the classifications of sexual assault of a child?
You may hear terms like:
Jurisdictions sometimes use highly technical terms. It is important to remember that the legal definition of the crime will be unique to the jurisdiction (for more information, see our state-by-state map). For example, in Texas, the offense of Sexual Assault of a Child is defined by Texas Penal Code Sec. 22.011. The crime is deemed to be “Aggravated” if the child is under 14 years of age, if a deadly weapon is used or serious bodily injury is threatened. This crime (in Texas) is usually a second degree felony (punishable by 2-20 years) but if the victim was younger than six years old at the time of the offense, or there was violence or a threat of violence involved), the crime may be a first degree felony (punishable by 5 to 99 years or life in prison).
How Can a Child Sexual Assault Attorney Help?
While the process of filing a civil claim against a perpetrator may sound overwhelming, the right child sexual assault attorney can help make it a healing process for the victim and their family. There are many negative emotions associated with sexual trauma besides just the act itself. Many victims feel isolated, ashamed, or guilty. The act of holding the person responsible for the abuse is oftentimes a big part of the healing process. It puts the power back in the hands of the victim and has been proven to have significant psychological benefits for the victims.
By holding an abuser accountable, children learn they are not helpless. It can be a way for the children to conquer their trauma . A skilled child sexual assault lawyer will fight for compensation that can help pay for services needed through the therapeutic process. It also relieves some financial burden and stress to allow the child and caregivers a chance to focus on recovery and healing. If you suspect a child is being sexual abused, contact the authorities and hold the abuser accountable. If the child suffered from molestation in Boy Scouts, molestation at school, Catholic Church molestation, or other forms of molestation in an institution, our child sexual abuse attorneys may be able to help. Contact us for a free initial consultation.
How to protect children from sexual assault
Because an assault is a violent act, many parents believe that their child is an unlikely victim or invincible from abuse. It is difficult to believe that a teacher, coach, or close family friend could be capable of such acts. Protect your children by:
- knowing the warning signs of child sexual abuse
- learn how to talk to your children about molestation and inappropriate behavior
- get help and report signs of molestation
- learn danger signs and take preventative measures
Know the Characteristics of a Child Sexual Assault Predator
|Characteristic of Perpetrator||All Sexual Assault Victims Estimate||All Sexual Assault Victims Percent|
|More than one perpetrator|
|Identity of main perpetrator|
|Child's friend or acquaintance||148,100||52|
|Family friend or acquaintance||23,300*||8*|
|Authority or caretaker||11,800*||4*|
|Known only by sight||20,200||7*|
|Main perpetrator's age|
|12 or younger||12,000*||4*|
|Main perpetrator's gender|
Take action today
The effects of and consequences of child sexual assault are far-reaching, and can impact victims’ emotional development, self-esteem, and personality. Along with recovering financial damages, the legal process has powerful psychological benefits. For a free and confidential initial case consultation, contact the child sexual assault attorneys at Estey & Bomberger today. We handle all cases on a contingency fee basis, which means there are no up-front fees and if we don’t win, we aren’t paid for our services.