A Fmr. Sex Crimes Prosecutor Says The US Legal System Is Failing Sexual Assault Victims

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By Brian Kent

Sexual assault is a life-changing event that leaves a victim with many questions to answer. In most cases, victims want to move on with their lives, but they also want to try and prevent their attacker from harming anyone else. The recovery process for this type of event can be very long, but part of that process could be the satisfaction of knowing that your attacker will never hurt anyone again.

Help For Victims

When it comes to getting help after a sexual assault, victims need to know that they have many options. The first concern after experiencing a sexual assault is to get any medical assistance you may need to be sure that your physical wounds heal properly. After you have been seen by medical professionals, there are many options available for you.

Sexual assault victims come from every walk of life, from the very young to the very old, victims do not necessarily have a profile that all attackers follow. But finding the strength it takes to fight back after a sexual assault is something that surprises many attackers, and surprises the victims as well.

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The Problem With The System

The legal system in the United States is more designed to punish people than nurture victims. Abuse is reported from a variety of sources including summer camps for children, nursing homes, and even long-term care facilities. Victims appear to be everywhere, but help is very limited.

The laws regarding the protection of sexual abuse victims are limited and designated primarily to punishing the attacker. When the trial is over, there are no state or federal laws that require facilities to open their doors to victims. Despite the shortcomings of the legal system when it comes to sexual abuse, there are ways a victim can fight back against an attacker in a court of law.

Legal Options Of Victims

Many states have set up special funds that help to compensate the victims of sexual assault and help them to try and put their lives back together. While it is not necessary to secure a court order or conviction of an attacker to benefit from state funding, the victim does need to agree to press charges and pursue the matter in court. In many cases, this form of compensation can seem limiting considering what the victim must go through.

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Perhaps the most effective form of legal retaliation a victim has in a case of sexual assault is a civil lawsuit against the attacker. With a civil lawsuit, the victim can seek significantly more compensation than they would get with state funding, which can act as a way of punishing the attacker.

Once again, the victim must agree to press charges and appear in court to have a successful civil trial. If the case turns in the favor of the victim, then the victim can secure the long-term funding they need during their recovery process and bring the actions of the attacker into the public spotlight. In these instances, a successful civil case can prevent an attacker from committing such acts in the future.

Another form of legal protection for sexual assault victims is a court order of protection. Depending on the state you live in, a protective order can be issued by a civil or criminal court. If the attacker violates the court order, you can call the police and have your attacker put in jail. This can act as a method of protection, and as a deterrent to future attacks.

The United States legal system is still woefully unprepared to help the victims of sexual assault to recover from their ordeals and try to put their lives back together. But by using the legal system, a victim can get the long-term funding they need to get treatment, and they can also deter future attacks from taking place. Changing mindsets around consent, gender equality and mutual respect is something we as a society must work on in order to tackle the underlying problems that continue to perpetuate sexual crimes.

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Brian-Kent

Before representing sexual assault survivors in cases of civil liability, Brian Kent, Esq. served as a sex crimes prosecutor in Pennsylvania, working for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office. An attorney with more than 10 years of legal experience, he is a lead sponsor of AbuseGuardian.com.

 

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  1. Pingback: "It Happened" Photo Series Shows How The Justice System Protects Perpetrators, Fails Victims - GirlTalkHQ

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