SEXUAL VIOLENCE VICTIMS NEED AFFIRMATION AND FINANCIAL HELP
“Adolescent sexual violence is far too common in the State of Indiana. The best available data indicates that Indiana has the second highest rate of forced sexual intercourse among high school females in the nation,” begins a report based on data from a study funded by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
One factor that makes successful amelioration of the problem difficult, the authors note, is the existence of unreported incidents. “When an assault goes unreported, the victim may not access needed support services that could mitigate the long-term traumatic effects of the experience.” If the person does find the courage to report, it is important that the process be one that is both encouraging and affirming.
Our function as lawyers, as we see it, is to help assure that affirmation and encouragement is made available, by reaching out to folks who know they need to speak out, who need to talk about what happened to them or to someone they love. Until and unless they find someone to listen to them without judgment, someone whom they can trust, they won’t speak out. And until and unless they do, nothing happens to prevent the crime from happening over and over again.
True, Indiana Law requires a person to immediately report suspected and reported child abuse to the authorities. A person who fails to do so can be prosecuted for a Class B misdemeanor or, in extreme circumstances, may be subject to civil liability for money damages. Plus, a new law requires teachers of pre-kindergarten through 12th grade to instruct children how to protect themselves against sexual abuse, with that same law, Indiana House Bill 1079, requiring background checks on both applicants and current school employees.
Child sexual abuse takes a huge financial toll, we know at Ramey & Hailey, increasing a young person’s long term risk for mental, physical and behavioral health issues. There is also a very complex and time-sensitive legal process involved. Our work as personal injury attorneys in Indiana is focused on helping survivors navigate those complexities to get the financial help they need.
Meanwhile, there is ongoing debate about the best way to handle the issue of sexual assault on school campuses. The Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault is criticizing the U.S. Department of Education plan covering how elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities investigate sexual violence. The Coalition position is that the new rules, based on Title IX, place the rights of the perpetrator over the rights of the victim.
As lawyers, our dedication is to become the voice for victims brave enough to help prevent the crime of sexual abuse from happening to others.