About Sexual Assault
Grasping that you have been sexually assaulted can trigger a slew of emotions: guilt, fear, shame, and confusion are all common feelings following the heartbreaking, trauma of sexual assault.
Regardless of how you feel, there is one thing you can be sure of: it wasn’t your fault.
With its deeply personal nature, there are few crimes that devastate a survivor like sexual assault. More than a trespass on the body, sexual abuse violates the mental, emotional and psychological capacities of a person.
It evokes powerful emotions that not many are willing or able to talk about openly. It is common for survivors of sexual abuse to withhold from sharing about their experience out of fear, shame and even guilt.
But there is hope.
At Pride Law Firm, we believe you – and it’s not your fault. Whether you have discovered this page from the anonymity of your smartphone, are a parent pursuing legal action on behalf of your child or an adult who has courageously decided to come forward about what happened to you as a child, we are with you.
As difficult as this time can be, we assure you that you are not alone and we are here to help you.
What is Sexual Assault?
As defined, sexual assault is an act in which a person is coerced or physically forced to engage against their will sexually. It is also defined as non-consensual touching of a person. Sexual assault is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of unwanted sexual acts. An assailant could be a complete stranger or even the survivor’s best friend. When an assault is committed by a close friend or relative of the survivor as it so often is, it can leave the survivor confused; was a boundary crossed? Did the perpetrator mean it as an act of “love?” Were you somehow to blame for it?
In the shock and blur following an assault, it can sometimes be difficult to discern what happened.
It was sexual assault if:
- You did not give consent
- You were a minor
- You were intoxicated from alcohol or drugs and unable to give consent
- Physically or verbally forced, threatened or manipulated into sexual activity
- Your attacker used rohypnol (“rufies”) or any other drug to lower your inhibitions
- Any type of unwanted physical contact or touching occurred
It can still be sexual assault if you:
- Knew your attacker
- Are related to your attacker
- Have previously consented to sexual acts with your attacker
- Are in a relationship with your attacker
If you answered yes any of the above questions, you may have been sexually assaulted and should see a doctor right away. It is also in your best interest to contact an assault attorney as soon as possible following the assault, even if you’re not sure you want to pursue legal action. Your attorney can help you understand your rights and will provide valuable guidance.
If You’ve Been Sexually Assaulted
If you’re having trouble sorting through your feelings and aren’t sure if you’ve been assaulted, call the Center for Community Solutions at (888) 385-4657. A compassionate staff member is available 24 hours a day to help you process and determine what steps to take next. Your call is confidential.
Regardless of whether your attacker is ever charged with a crime, Jessica Pride can help you get justice through the civil court system. Whether it’s the perpetrator, the institution that employed him or her, or any other entity that bears responsibility, Jessica will fight to get you the justice you deserve.
Even if you’re not sure if you want to file a claim, we can answer any questions you have and help you understand your options for moving forward. You may reach our offices at (619) 516-8166 anytime, or contact us using the form provided below and we will respond to your message within a 24-hour time period. The first step is reaching out.
What are the Benefits of Working with a Lawyer?
Jeremy Lynch (18:34):
What are some of the benefits that come from working with a lawyer like yourself, or a firm like yours? Does the assailant or the perpetrator go to jail longer? Or how, how can you explain how that works?
Jessica Pride (18:50):
Yeah, that’s a really good question because most people don’t understand the difference between the civil system and the criminal system. So with the criminal court system, the objective is to send the predator to jail. The people who are in charge of that are the district attorney’s office and the police department. So then the other end is civil court. The objective in civil court is to get a survivor money for pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, things like that. Now I’m a civil lawyer. If a survivor would like their perpetrator to go to jail, then they need to call the police department file a report. They would then send it to the district attorney’s office. And then the district attorney would make a decision whether or not they’re gonna prosecute the criminal or perpetrator and try and put them in jail, make them register as a sex offender, things like that. I don’t have any control over that. I usually represent my clients and I will help them in their criminal case or go, you know, through it with them because in a criminal case, it’s the people versus the predator and the district attorney represents the people, not the survivor, the survivors, the star witness, but their interest, they cannot take the survivor’s interest is their paramount concern. So things like sometimes we see in criminal cases and I know I’m going off on a tangent, but we see our clients’ psych records or school records subpoenaed by the criminal defense attorney. We actually jump in at that point and say, no, no, no. And we’ll fight to keep our client’s privacy and things out so that they’re not trying to vilify or trying to make the survivor look bad in order to help get a defense … for the criminal.
Jessica Pride (20:42):
Now the civil side. What … people don’t realize is that the majority of cases the prosecution rate, depending on where you’re at around the country, it’s two to 5%, two to 5%. That means most predators are not going to jail. I think part of the problem is, is not because we don’t have great detectives out there or prosecutors who want to prosecute these cases. It’s because in criminal court, they have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, alters 12 jurors have to say guilty in order for that person to go to jail in civil court, we’re more likely than not 50 in a feather. So in cases with sexual assault, well, a lot of times, 80%, it’s somebody, you know, so, you know, you’re home alone with them or you’re in a, a school classroom or something there aren’t cameras recording. Usually, there is no, you know, audio or video recording.
Jessica Pride (21:39):
It’s two people in a room and often what we’d call, “he said, she said” type of liability what we’re looking at well because of the burden of proofing, lighter text messages, all kinds of other persuasive evidence are… I mean, they come in and are really helpful and has created a really amazing success rate in civil court. So most survivors can opt to do a criminal. Well, they don’t get to, they can file it and hope that the government is going to file charges. They can do a civil case at the same time. They can do both. They can do none. They get to choose. But what we often see with our clients is the majority of our clients don’t have criminal prosecutions and we’re able to get them justice in civil court. So civil court, in my opinion, is a way for survivors for more survivors to get justice against their predators.
Jessica Pride (22:33):
And the justice we like to see is not just monetary justice, meaning getting a survivor money for pain and suffering medical bills, lost wages, but also we like to create institutional change. So we like to see a school. For example, we just settled a case with school that whose teacher abused several of my clients, and in the settlement agreement, we said, Hey, it’s not enough that you’re gonna pay these survivors for what they went through. We wanna make sure that no other child at that school gets hurt. And so because of that, you need to hire an independent consultant. You need to change your policies and procedures. You need to put things in place to make sure that no other child gets hurt. You gotta keep kids safe. And so for my clients, for me, it’s really important for there to be non-monetary changes in settlements whenever it’s possible because we really do wanna make a difference, not just in the lives of these survivors, but for the person coming behind them.
Jessica Pride (23:39):
Most of my clients will say I was really scared to come forward. And I, if it was just about me, I couldn’t have done it. I, I didn’t have the courage to do it for me, but when I thought about what he might do to another girl, maybe younger than me who doesn’t have enough strength, I didn’t want anybody else getting hurt. So for that girl, for the person, I don’t know, I found the courage and I think that’s so powerful. And so we all, that’s why I think we need to create institutional change. It’s not just about an individual client.
Justice for Sexual Assault Survivors
Confidentially Speak With A Sexual Assault Attorney
To find out how Jessica can help you find your voice again, contact us at (619) 516-8166. Even if you just need someone to confide in, every conversation with Jessica is protected by an attorney/client privilege that ensures anything and everything discussed remains between you and Jessica.
Signs Your Loved One Has Been Sexually Assaulted
If your close friend or family member, son or daughter has been acting out of character lately, it could be an indication of sexual assault. Because survivors often feel enormous shame by the assault, it is common for them to become withdrawn, quiet, irritable and anti-social. They may avoid interactions in an effort to keep the assault to themselves.
If you are concerned about a loved one, get to know the common warning signs among sexual assault survivors. After such a trauma, the survivor will often show both inward and outward signs of pain and trouble.
It is also common for survivors to experience a degree of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Symptoms of PTSD may include:
- Trouble focusing
- Fear of public places
- Difficulty maintaining close relationships
- Loss of interest in normal hobbies and activities
A survivor may even lose a sense of motivation to care for themselves (such as with personal grooming habits), be terminated from work, expelled from school, fall behind on bills or turn to alcohol and/or drugs to cope with their pain. These are more obvious signs of inner turmoil and should be taken with concern.
Because of the trauma, sexual assault survivors may have trouble remembering details of the event and recount it vaguely. In other cases where coercion is involved, an assaulter may use tactics of deception, blaming the survivor and even gaslighting in order to make her disbelieve the event even happened.
If you believe your loved one is dealing with the devastation of sexual assault, reach out to them. Assure them they are not alone and when they’re ready, help them get in touch with a trusted attorney like Jessica Pride. You could play a critical role in helping them get the assistance they need.
We understand that processing through the event can be difficult, and we will provide a safe, private and supportive environment for them to do that. Any information you have related to the incident is vital and will help the attorney act immediately to contact the proper authorities, using all information to build a strong case on your behalf.
Non-Consensual Sex is Considered Assault
Unfortunately, it is common for both assailants and survivors to try and justify non-consensual sex. However, there is no grey area when it comes to sexual assault: regardless of your gender, relationship to the attacker, how much you had to drink, sexual history or what you were wearing at the time, if the act was unwanted or out of your control, it was assault.
Under most state laws, consensual sexual activity requires “positive cooperation” by partners. A person who is intoxicated due to alcohol or drugs cannot legally consent to sexual contact, nor can someone who is developmentally disabled.
There is no well-founded reason for sexual abuse, and blaming yourself may feel natural but is not the answer. If you are struggling with self-blame, please speak with a professional counselor or advocate for sexual assault survivors. An ideal resource for this is the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) or our on-staff Survivor Advocate will also be able to connect you with the care and support you need during this time.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault perpetrators must be brought to justice. This includes being held legally and financially responsible – and we will assure they are. The person who violated you, an individual who enabled the attack or any institution whose negligence allowed for the assault may all be held liable for the attack.
In addition to those directly involved in the assault, other parties can also be culpable for their participation or oversight associated with the incident in a court of law. This can include but is not limited to:
- Property owners who are aware of unsafe conditions or dangerous persons on their property but take no action
- Companies that employ supervisors who pressure employees into unwanted sexual encounters
- Parents who host a party where they watch underage drinking occur and an intoxicated teen is raped
Your life does not have to center around the horrible act that occurred to you. You can heal and go on to live a happy and healthy life after sexual assault. You should report your sexual assault to law enforcement immediately, and Jessica Pride can help you get justice through the civil courts.
You Are Not Alone
A study by RAINN reveals that every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted. Of the reported incidents each year, there are still more than 50% of sexual assaults that are not reported.
Just as disturbing is the fact that most attacks are committed by someone known by the survivor – 73% to be exact, while four in ten assaults occur at the survivor’s home.
Youth and women comprise the majority of sexual assault survivors: 44% are below the age of 18, 80% are under 30. One in six women has been the survivor of a rape or attempted rape, while 1 in 33 American men has been a survivor of rape or attempted rape.
Shockingly, just 3% of rapes result in a criminal conviction.
Where Does It Happen?
Many sexual assault sufferers are victimized while incapacitated or under the care of an individual or institution.
Sexual assault is commonly reported in:
- Foster care
- Boy Scouts
- Cruise ships
- Youth sports
- Residential care
- Service industry
- Psychiatric treatment facilities
- Daycare, preschool or after-care
What were survivors doing at the time of the incident?
- 48% were sleeping, or performing another activity at home
- 29% were traveling to and from work or school, or traveling to shop or run errands
- 12% were working
- 7% were attending school
- 5% were doing an unknown or other activity
It’s common for survivors of sexual abuse to feel isolated and alone. These troubling numbers are proof that you are not, yet you are also not another number. Your story matters, and you can find your voice again.
You may not have chosen to be a survivor, but you can choose to be a survivor – and we can help.
Get a Fighter in Jessica Pride
Jessica knows what it feels like to be victimized and is a zealous advocate, unmatched in her dedication to empowering people after the tragedy of sexual assault.
Sexual assault should not define you, and Jessica will do her best to ensure it doesn’t. Contact Jessica Pride, she will help you hold your attacker and all other responsible parties accountable in civil court.
Empowering Survivors of Sexual Assault
You are more than what happened to you. Someone else’s wrong actions do not define you as a person. Perpetrators often commit heinous crimes as a means of gaining control, but you don’t have to remain a survivor of their violation.
You have tremendous power within you to grow past this painful experience; we will help you find it again. At Pride Law Firm, we have helped countless other people just like you regain the dignity and control they feel they lost by sexual assault. Your healing will not only be life changing for yourself, but could also help someone else.
What You Can Expect in a Sexual Assault Case
Empathetic and passionate, Jessica has based her practice on the protection and restoration of her clients, who almost always become her personal friends.
Focusing only on sexual assault cases, Jessica understands the pain you are going through and has helped facilitate hope and healing for countless others like you. From your first consultation to the last phone call, Jessica will be by your side and fight tirelessly for your best interest.
Reach Out to Us
If you have been a victim of sexual assault, child sexual abuse, or workplace sexual harassment we are here to answer your questions, provide a free and confidential case evaluation, and connect you to resources.
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The Pride Law Firm
2831 Camino Del Rio S., Suite 104
San Diego, CA 92108
Hours. M-F 8:30am - 5:00pm PST
Phone. (619) 516-8166
Fax. (619) 785-3414