Witnesses are important in sexual abuse cases. This is especially true for cases where time has elapsed from when the abuse occurred to when it was reported because physical evidence may not be available.
If you or a loved one has suffered from sexual abuse, you can pursue compensation for your financial damages and pain and suffering in civil court. However, doing so may require you to locate and interview witnesses, or testify. An attorney with our firm can help you do this and prepare you for court.
Why Is Witness Testimony Important in Sexual Abuse Cases?
Reporting sexual abuse can be difficult. According to Psychology Today, many sexual abuse victims may not immediately report abuse or seek help for personal, legal, and societal reasons. Child victims may not remember or recognize the abuse until adulthood. Unfortunately, however, delays in reporting often lead to a loss of evidence.
According to the United Nations, victim testimony is essential in sexual violence cases where physical evidence was not collected immediately following the attack. In addition, in child sexual abuse cases, sometimes the only witnesses are the victim and perpetrator, and the victim’s account may be the central piece of evidence. For these reasons, witness testimony can be critical.
Preserving Evidence of a Recent Assault
If you suffered sexual abuse, assault, or violence, you do not have to report it immediately. However, it may help if you can preserve evidence. Seeking professional help may assist any legal action should you decide to file a police report or press charges in the future. Planned Parenthood advises you:
- Avoid washing, using the bathroom, brushing your teeth, combing your hair, or altering your appearance before seeking medical treatment. Doctors and nurses can document your condition and collect physical evidence at your request, including a sexual assault forensic exam.
- Avoid changing your clothes. You can bring extra clothes to the hospital to change into after the examination. However, if you do change, it may be best to take your clothing with you to the hospital.
- Seek medical care. You may need a test and treatment for HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or immediate wound care for skin abrasions and other injuries.
What Should You Do If You Have to Testify?
If you are a witness in a sexual abuse case, you will undergo questioning by the plaintiff’s (victim’s) attorney and the opposing counsel. This can be a stressful and challenging experience, especially if you are the victim or the victim is someone you love. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) offers the following tips:
- Allow yourself to pause and collect your thoughts, particularly if you feel frustrated
- Focus on the person asking you questions, not others in the room
- Always tell the truth – it is okay to ask to clarify your statement if you say something you did not intend
- It is all right to ask an attorney to repeat a question or provide more information if you do not understand
- Remember that every case is different, and you can turn to your attorney or victim advocate with specific questions about your testimony
How Can We Prepare for Your Sexual Abuse Case?
Our firm owns personal courtrooms where we prepare our clients and case witnesses. This allows you to become comfortable with a court setting, questioning, and the legal process. Our team will also work with you to provide feedback, strategize, and strengthen your testimony.
Additionally, we will:
- Identify liability for your sexual abuse claims (this could be the abuser or the school, church, business, or institution that contributed to their crimes)
- Collect case evidence, including locating and interviewing eyewitnesses and experts
- Pursue fair compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more
- File your insurance claims or lawsuits
- Track and adhere to case deadlines (including your state’s statute of limitations)
- Communicate with insurance agents and attorneys on your behalf
- Fight for you during negotiations
- Represent you at trial if necessary
Where Can You Find Sexual Abuse Resources?
If you need help finding crisis services in your area, contact RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline for confidential, 24/7 support. You can also chat with a representative online at online.rainn.org.
For legal assistance, consider reaching out to a sexual abuse lawyer with our firm. We can provide more information about your rights and help you seek the compensation you deserve.
Contact Greenberg Gross LLP to Help With Your Sexual Abuse Case
Our civil litigation attorneys are focused on helping victims of sexual abuse and assault with injury claims. We understand how sexual abuse can devastate your life, leading to physical injury, emotional and mental suffering, work loss, and other damages. We want to help you get back on your feet and do so as professionally, compassionately, and efficiently as possible.
Witnesses are important in sexual abuse cases, and we can help prepare you and others involved in your case for questioning. We will fight for you and build a robust case. Contact us for a no-obligation, free consultation to learn more about how we can represent you on contingency.