The month of April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, providing an opportunity dedicated to educating people about sexual assault and its victims. The brave survivors that our sexual abuse attorneys are currently representing have inspired us to share important information regarding sexual abuse throughout Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Read our blog post from last week to learn what is considered to be sexual assault.
WHERE DOES SEXUAL ASSAULT HAPPEN?
Sexual assault can happen anywhere. Sadly, we are seeing more and more victims of sexual abuse in locations that should be considered safe spaces. Keep reading for information that everyone should know about sexual assault and where it occurs:
Sexual assault is unfortunately becoming increasingly prevalent in schools. More and more children are coming forward to report sexual abuse by trusted educators and other students. According to an Associated Press (AP) analysis of federal crime data, for every adult-on-child sexual assault in schools, there are seven student-on-student sexual assaults. Sexual assault can take place in school bathrooms, playgrounds, classrooms, school busses, on field trips, locker rooms, and dorm rooms. Schools should be safe spaces for children, however, sexual assault is occurring throughout educational establishments from Pre-K to college.
Children who experience an unstable home life may be placed in the foster care system. In many instances, the children who go into foster care to escape abuse end up enduring more abuse while under the care of a foster home. Johns Hopkins University conducted a study determining that children in foster care are four times more likely to be sexually abused than children not living in foster care. The study also concluded that children who live in group homes are almost thirty times more likely to be abused than children not in a similar living situation. A foster child’s abuser could be the foster parents, foster sibling, a group home employee, foster care worker, social worker, or teacher.
Sexual assault and abuse can occur in religious institutions of all denominations. While the Catholic Church has seen a high number of sexual abuse cases in recent years, abuse has also been reported in other religious communities like Muslim groups, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhist denominations, and in the Church of the Latter-Day Saints. Most recently in Pennsylvania, we have seen several high-profile cases against multiple Catholic dioceses including Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton where over 300 clergy members were identified in a grand jury report. The high level of trust that many abusers have gained due to their well-respected positions within the institutions often result in the victims being unaware of abuse within the relationship or believing that they consented to the abuse that took place.
Working parents place their children in a daycare facility with the expectation that they will be supervised by a responsible and trustworthy caretaker. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If a daycare facility fails to conduct thorough background checks and neglects to properly monitor the employees that are supervising the children in their care, they can unknowingly hire sexual predators looking to harm vulnerable children. Experts advise parents to learn the behavioral, physical, and emotional signs of sexual abuse as well as keeping an open line of communication with their children by teaching them the proper words for their body parts and encouraging them to share if someone hurts them at daycare.
Hospital sexual assault can include nonconsensual and inappropriate touching, forcing a patient to reveal body parts that do not need to be shown during an examination, and failure to share with a patient what they are doing during a breast, vaginal, rectal, pelvic, or teste exam. While it is hard to think about a trusted healthcare provider harming their patients in this way, it does happen. The Atlanta Journal Constitution conducted a study using the public records of every state in the U.S. that concluded that since 1999, over 3,000 doctors were accused of sexual assault by their patients. The study also found that some patients were under sedation during the time of the assault. Other victims felt uncomfortable during examinations and procedures, but thought that they were receiving legitimate medical care. Patients place a lot of trust in the medical professionals caring for them, however, some healthcare professionals abuse that trust.
Sick and elderly residents in nursing homes suffering from cognitive or physical disabilities are very vulnerable targets for a sexual abuser. In many instances of nursing home sexual abuse, the perpetrators are other residents or the primary caregivers. While elderly women are often victims of sexual assault in nursing homes, it is important to note that both elderly men and women can be victims of abuse in nursing homes. In fact, dementia-driven sexual abuse among residents is one of the most common forms of sexual abuse occurring in nursing homes. With impaired cognitive abilities, residents with dementia may not have the capability to report the abuse they are enduring and may not even be aware of that they are being sexually abused. Due to this, many reports of sexual abuse in nursing homes go unreported.
WHAT TO DO IF IT HAPPENS TO YOU
Sexual abuse is a violation that no person should endure. Regardless of where sexual assault occurs, it is a crime where the perpetrator should be held accountable for their heinous actions. If you or someone you love is a victim of sexual assault, you may be entitled to compensation. Consulting an experienced sexual abuse attorney is imperative in properly navigating the legal system to ensure that you receive the compensation and justice that you deserve.
To the sexual assault survivors, we want you to know that you are not alone. With decades of extensive experience with litigation against private schools, public schools, child-care facilities, nursing homes, religious institutions, and more, the sexual assault attorneys at Friedman Schuman are here to fight with you. We are prepared to help you hold the abusers and institutions accountable for their crimes. Contact us today to schedule a confidential and free consultation.