There is never an excuse for sexual abuse. The effects of sexual assault and other sexual abuse can last a lifetime. Victims may feel unsafe, insecure, devalued, or even guilty as a result of the abuse they have endured. Victims often have trouble understanding that it wasn’t their fault – even years afterward.
Protecting Sexual Assault and Rape Victims’ Rights
We help victims of sexual assault and sexual abuse fight back. We offer a sexual assault lawyer Atlanta victims can trust to defend them. As in all of our cases, we put our clients’ needs and wishes first. For example, some victims of sexual abuse decide to go to trial and publicly confront their abusers. We have done that. Other victims of sexual assault prefer to remain anonymous and file their cases using a pseudonym. We’ve done that too. We follow whichever course our client wants to pursue. Contact our Atlanta sexual assault lawyer today!
Our clients are motivated by different factors. Some victims of sexual abuse want to make sure that the attacker is stopped, and that there will be no new victims. Some want to show the attackers that they can fight back. Some seek compensation for the psychological trauma they have experienced. Many want some combination of those things. We can help. Contact our Atlanta sexual assault lawyer today!
Sexual Abuse Laws in Georgia
Georgia law allows victims to hold their attackers accountable. Georgia’s legislature has enacted a number of laws that we can use to fight back against perpetrators of sexual assault, rape, or sexual abuse. They include:
- Rape. Rape refers to sexual penetration without consent. Rape can occur when the attacker holds the victim down with physical force, when the attacker uses the threat of physical force, or when the attacker abuses a position of legal or psychological power to take advantage of the victim. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-1. For more information about rape, click here to see our Atlanta rape lawyer page.
- Sexual Assault or Sexual Battery. Sexual assault or sexual battery occurs when the attacker makes unwanted sexual contact with the victim without the victim’s consent. Again, sometimes the attacker physically restrains the victim, but other times, the attacker uses a threat of force or a position of power to get what they want from the victim. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-22.1; O.C.G.A. § 16-6-5.1.
- Sexual Assault by Persons in a Position of Power. When an attacker in a position of power – such as a teacher, law enforcement officer, or doctor – uses that power to take advantage of a victim sexually, the attacker can be held liable or prosecuted. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-5.1.
- Statutory Rape. When an attacker has sexual intercourse with a victim who is under sixteen years old, the attacker has committed statutory rape. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-3.
- Child Molestation. Child molestation occurs when an attacker takes sexual advantage of a child under sixteen years old. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-4. Enticing a Child for Indecent Purposes. Enticement occurs when an attacker takes a child under 16 years to someplace – or attempts to take them someplace – in order to commit sexual acts against that child. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-5.
- Enticing a Child for Indecent Purposes. Enticement occurs when an attacker takes a child under 16 years to someplace – or attempts to take them someplace – in order to commit sexual acts against that child. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-5.
Effects of Sexual Assault and Rape on the Victim
The psychological scars from sexual abuse can get better with time and treatment. But often, they never fully heal.
Victims often blame themselves, even when they know that they shouldn’t. We have represented clients who were abused by authority figures as children and who still dealt with feelings of guilt decades later. Often, victims know in their minds that they were not at fault for what happened to them, but they still, struggle to overcome the feeling of guilt. These feelings of guilt sometimes make it hard for victims to come forward and take a stand against their attackers.
Sexual Assault Attorneys in Atlanta
Victims often worry that nobody will believe them. We have represented clients who kept memories suppressed for years and years because they worried that if they told the truth, others would believe the attacker instead of believing them. These concerns are especially common when the attacker was an authority figure or a respected member of the community. For this reason, some victims hesitate to come forward until another victim comes forward first. Sometimes the result is that one attacker has many victims, all of whom stay silent because they don’t know about each other and they are all waiting for someone else to come forward first.
When someone becomes a victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse, they can lose their emotional sense of security. They never feel safe. Even at home behind locked doors, they can be haunted by the memories of what they went through. They may go out less or become afraid to be alone.
As sexual assault lawyers, we can’t cure these effects of sexual abuse, but we can help victims fight back and we can use the law to obtain compensation for these effects. When victims endure psychological trauma, anxiety, or a loss of a sense of security as a result of sexual assault or sexual abuse, Georgia law allows victims to stand up for themselves and make a claim for compensation. That’s where we come in. Many sexual assault cases end in confidential settlements, but others can go all the way through trial. We have handled both.
Criminal Suits vs Civil Suits
There are two types of cases that can be brought as a result of sexual assault, or sexual abuse: civil cases and criminal cases. Sometimes, both types of cases are brought, and sometimes only one. Here we talk about the differences.
- Civil Cases. Civil cases are the types of cases that our firm handles. In a civil case, the primary objective is usually to help the victim, often by providing a monetary settlement or verdict. Civil cases can also seek to make sure that sexual abuse never occurs again, often through what the law calls “punitive damages.” Civil cases are private lawsuits filed by victims or their families, usually with the assistance of a lawyer.
- Criminal Cases. In criminal cases, the primary objective is to punish the attacker. Criminal cases are brought by the state or federal government through a prosecutor, who typically seeks to have the attacker put in prison. Although some criminal cases attempt to recover money for the victim in the form of “restitution,” those monetary amounts are usually too low to provide much help. The prosecutor, who is a representative of the state or federal government, decides whether to bring a criminal case, often with input from law enforcement. Sometimes prosecutors may refuse to bring criminal cases, even if the victim asks that they do so. Typically, the prosecutor’s decision is final.
Damages in Sexual Assault Claims
The last thing on your mind, when you are recovering from sexual assault, may be filing a civil lawsuit against the person who harmed you. You will be taking steps towards your recovery both physically and emotionally. What many fail to consider is that there is usually a sizeable financial cost as a result. There are a number of expenses you may have to contend with following a sexual assault.
For many victims of sexual assault, the road toward healing can be long. After the physical wounds heal, the emotional scars can be deep and last for many years. The cost associated with sexual assault may go unnoticed. Collecting damages may be the last thing on your mind. In fact, people who have experienced sexual assault may be entitled to collecting damages for the following:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Therapy expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
Sexual Assault and Rape Crimes and Negligent Security
If you were the victim of sexual assault, you will likely want the perpetrator to pay for what they have done to you. The good news is, if they have already been proven guilty in criminal court, the process can be a bit easier when it comes to civil matters. However, the hard truth is that a perpetrator may not have many assets to draw from should they be required to compensate you.
As a result, it will make sense to also look to third parties for ways they may have been at least in part responsible for the assault. Third parties may be liable if they contributed or were a bystander to the assault that took place. This could happen in a number of locations including:
- A condo or apartment complex
- Place of employment
- Nursing homes
One common example surrounds criminal background checks for employees. If a hospital hired someone with a criminal record and failed to run a background check, they are putting people at risk. This is especially the case if the employee they recently hired had a criminal history and then raped or assaulted a person at the hospital. The hospital can be held partially responsible for the assault.
The goal for a personal injury lawyer in Atlanta will be to help their clients receive a financial award for the case. When overviewing sexual assault cases, they will look to whom it makes sense to include in the civil suit based on the role they played surrounding its’ occurrence.
If you are considering a lawsuit to collect damages following a sexual assault, it is important to speak with a sexual assault lawyer Atlanta clients trust. The legal process can be complicated and given the sensitive subject matter, the process can be incredibly emotional for a victim. It will be important to get through the process as quickly and smoothly as possible so that you can get on with living your life.
Responsibility for Sexual Crimes & Abuse
Often, the attacker isn’t the only party responsible for sexual assault or sexual abuse. Sometimes there was another person or organization that let it happen.
Irresponsible companies or organizations sometimes turn a blind eye to sexual abuse going on inside them. We have handled cases in which a youth psychiatric treatment center failed to stop its counselors from repeatedly raping vulnerable youths and in which a church ignored the warning signs about how one of its pastors had turned into a sexual predator. We’ve handled cases in which schools failed to stop teachers from sexually abusing students and cases in which a large company ignored the complaints of its employees and allowed a manager to statutorily rape a fifteen-year-old girl during her shift. We’ve seen many cases in which managers or owners sexually harass employees, creating what the law calls a “hostile work environment.” If that has happened to you or someone you love, Georgia law allows victims to hold those companies or organizations accountable.
What If I Was Sexually Assaulted or Raped While I Was Passed Out?
In Georgia, it is against the law to engage in sexual acts with someone who is passed out or otherwise unable to give consent. A person who initiates sexual contact in this way can be held criminally accountable and civilly liable.
If you think that you were sexually assaulted while you were asleep or unconscious, you should act swiftly to protect yourself and your legal rights. First, you should seek prompt medical attention. Healthcare providers can treat your physical injuries, collect evidence that you can use to prove that the assault occurred and refer you to mental health professionals who can help you process the trauma you’ve experienced. You should also consider reporting the assault to law enforcement as soon as possible. While it can be distressing to report sexual assault to the authorities, promptly doing so increases the chances that your abuser will be apprehended and brought to justice.
What If I Withdrew from Sex?
What if you initially agreed to engage in a sexual act but you later withdrew your consent? Your sexual partner has an obligation to desist further sexual activity as soon as you tell them to, and if they fail to do so, they can be charged with sexual assault – and can also be held liable in civil court for the harm they caused you. As soon as you withdraw your consent, the other party is required to stop engaging in sexual activity.
Many people who suffer sexual assault that began as a consensual sex act are afraid to report the assault because they worry that no one will believe them or that the perpetrator will escape justice. However, it is important to understand that the law is on your side and that alerting law enforcement is a necessary first step to securing accountability.
What is Considered Rape in Atlanta?
Georgia Code § 16-6-1 sets forth a precise and narrow definition of rape. Per state law, a man who has carnal knowledge of a woman forcibly and against her will or of any girl younger than 10 years old has committed rape. The law also specifies that a man who engages in forcible sexual contact with his wife may not use the fact of their marriage as a defense against rape charges.
The law defines carnal knowledge as the penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ. So, within the Georgia legal system, rape can only occur when a man’s penis penetrates a woman’s vagina against her will. Even though men and LGBTQ+ persons are also affected by sexual violence, Georgia rape laws apply only to women or girls under 10 who are forcibly sexually penetrated by men. Other sex crimes that may otherwise be referred to as rape are typically considered either sexual battery or aggravated sodomy in the state’s criminal justice system.
What is My Atlanta Rape Case Worth?
If you decide to pursue a civil rape case in Atlanta, you could secure compensation for the following:
- Hospital bills and medical expenses
- Psychological counseling
- Lost wages and earning capacity
- Scarring, pain, and suffering
- Loss of quality or enjoyment of life
- Insomnia, anxiety, and emotional distress
After reviewing the facts, a skilled attorney can place an estimated value on your case.
What Should I Do if I’ve Been Raped in Atlanta?
Being raped is a terrifying experience that can leave survivors feeling isolated and vulnerable. If you are uncertain of what to do next, here are some steps you can take right away to protect yourself:
- Go somewhere safe. This could be a friend’s home, a hospital, or a women’s shelter. Call 911 or the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-4673) for help if you are in immediate danger.
- Resist the urge to bathe or change your clothing. While you might want nothing more than to shower and clean up, doing so could destroy vital evidence of the crime. If you can, avoid showering, changing clothes, combing your hair, going to the bathroom, or eating until you have been examined for evidence.
- Seek immediate medical care. For physical injuries, visit the emergency room or your doctor to obtain the necessary medical treatment. Once your condition is stable, you can seek help from a mental health professional or trauma therapist for emotional support.
- Consider your legal options. The decision to take legal action is a serious one. A knowledgeable and sympathetic rape lawyer can answer your questions and help you evaluate your options in a private consultation.
Atlanta Sexual Assault Lawyers are here to Help
We help victims fight back. Our firm has even gone to Georgia’s capital to work on creating new laws, such as the Hidden Predator Act, to give victims protection against sexual attackers.
More often, we represent victims as their attorneys. If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse and you are interested in taking action, contact us by phone, via website chat, or by filling out our Application for Representation. Your conversation with our firm is free and confidential. Atlanta rape lawyer.
Contact a Rape Attorney in Atlanta Today
If you are a survivor of rape or another sex crime in Atlanta, the proven lawyers at Butler Kahn will listen to your story and help you hold every liable party accountable for their role in the attack. Call or contact us today for a free and confidential case review.
Resources for Sexual Assault Victims
If you’ve recently experienced sexual assault, you might find yourself wondering where to turn for help. Sexual assault is very traumatic, both physically and emotionally, and seeking help right away is an important part of the healing process. There are many wonderful organizations in Georgia that offer support for sexual assault victims.
Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault
GNESA is Georgia’s leading network of sexual assault support providers. They have an extensive network of sexual assault care centers throughout the state. They also work with advocacy organizations, which increase public awareness and fight for the rights of sexual assault victims. They provide a complete list of sexual assault centers throughout Georgia on their website. These sexual assault centers are a safe haven for those who have recently experienced sexual assault or domestic violence. They offer medical treatment as well as counseling to help victims determine their next steps.
This is the largest nationwide network for sexual assault victims and their loved ones. They run the National Sexual Assault Hotline, which victims can call 24/7 for confidential assistance. They also have a free chat function on their website for those who feel more comfortable reaching out for help online. Both the hotline and the online chat are completely confidential. They also work to change public policy surrounding sexual assault and run prevention initiatives throughout the country. Their website also has extensive information about what to do in the aftermath of a sexual assault. If you are unsure of where to go for medical care or mental health support in the wake of trauma, RAINN’s first response hotlines are a good place to go.
Sexual Violence Resource of Georgia
This organization provides support primarily for sexual assault response teams. However, their website also has valuable resources for victims, including lists of trauma centers as well as trusted prosecutors with experience in assault cases.
College Support Centers
If you are a college student, your school may have a support center for those who have been assaulted. Many schools also have affordable clinics and free therapy centers. These services are usually completely confidential. Talk to your school’s general counselors to see what resources are available to you.
What To Do After An Assault
If you’ve been assaulted, it’s important to seek medical treatment as soon as you feel able. Not only is this crucial for your physical well-being, but it can also make things easier if you choose to eventually pursue a legal case against your assailant. If you choose to press charges, you will only have 72 hours to collect viable forensic evidence. From there, you may choose to file a police report and seek legal counsel. It is also very important to seek psychological support for help managing the mental and emotional trauma of sexual assault. Both group and individual therapy can be very beneficial for those who have experienced trauma. There are also many other types of trauma-informed therapy available, such as animal therapy, art classes, yoga, and more. If you do press charges, it is crucial that you have an experienced and trustworthy lawyer to guide you through the case.
Helping Sexual Assault Victims
If your loved one has been a victim of sexual assault, it can be difficult to know how to support them. The best place to start is by believing the victim, and keeping in mind that sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. The next step is to help them find an appropriate crisis center, and help them find medical and legal support. It’s also very important to ask the victim how you can help and respect any decisions they make.
We serve all areas of Atlanta, including Brookhaven, Druid Hills, Buckhead, Chastain Park, Garden Hills, Piedmont Heights, Midtown, Downtown Atlanta, Grove Pak, Inman Park, South Atlanta, East Atlanta Village, West End, and Atlantic Station.