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Questions Sexual Abuse Survivors May Have

Sexual abuse survivors may have various questions and concerns as they navigate the process of healing and holding an abuser accountable. At Taxman, Pollock, Murray & Bekkerman, LLC, we answer frequently asked questions by sexual abuse and assault survivors. We also offer free individual case consultations in Illinois for answers to specific questions.

What Is Considered Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse refers to any unwanted or non-consensual sexual encounter. State law, 720 ILCS 5/11-1.50, states that a person commits sexual abuse if that person:

  • “Commits an act of sexual conduct by the use of force or threat of force;
  • Commits an act of sexual conduct and knows that the victim is unable to understand the nature of the act or is unable to give knowing consent;
    • Is under 17 years of age and commits an act of sexual penetration or conduct with a victim who is at least 9 years of age but under 17 years of age; or
  • Commits an act of sexual penetration or sexual conduct with a victim who is at least 13 years of age but under 17 years of age and the person is less than 5 years older than the victim.”

Types of sexual abuse include inappropriate touching, kissing, fondling, groping, penetration, sodomy, rape and attempted rape.

Who Can I Talk to About the Abuse?

It can be crucial for your mental health to speak to someone about the trauma of being sexually abused. You deserve to feel heard, believed, and supported. Resources are available for survivors, such as the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA). The ICASA offers 24-hour crisis centers throughout the state to provide counseling, advocacy, and intervention services. You can also contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE.

What Legal Options Do I Have?

You can cooperate with police and prosecutors in a criminal case against the offender. This could lead to a conviction and a sentence against the perpetrator, such as jail time and registration on the Illinois Sex Offender List. You also have the right to seek justice through another legal system by filing a civil sexual abuse claim. A lawsuit can help you reclaim a sense of control and empowerment.

What Types of Financial Compensation Are Available to Survivors?

Filing a lawsuit for sexual abuse or assault could lead to financial compensation for several of your related losses. Various economic and noneconomic damages may be available, such as:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Therapy and counseling
  • Prescription medications
  • Lost wages and lost future capacity to earn
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Punitive damages

The potential value of a sexual abuse case will depend on the circumstances. A sexual assault and abuse lawyer can help you negotiate for maximum compensation.

How Long Do I Have to File a Sexual Abuse Claim in Illinois?

In Illinois, there are legal time limits on the ability to file a sexual abuse lawsuit. Under 735 ILCS 5/13-202, “actions for damages for an injury to the person…shall be commenced within 2 years next after the cause of action accrued.” This means that adult survivors of sexual abuse generally have 2 years from the date of the attack to pursue financial compensation.

However, there is an exception for child sexual abuse cases under 735 ILCS 5/13-202.2, which states: “an action for damages based on childhood sexual abuse may be commenced at any time.” This exception applies to child sexual abuse cases filed after January 1, 2014, which is when the statute of limitations was lifted.

Certain situations may lengthen or shorten the filing window. Do not wait to seek counsel from a sexual abuse lawyer near you. Take prompt action by requesting a free case consultation at (312) 321-8414.