Children, Elderly & Other Vulnerable Populations
People who have been sexually assaulted understand the impact it can have on their physical and mental health. Sexual assault can happen to anyone, but vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly, immigrants, and prisoners, face greater risks.
It may be impossible for these individuals to fight back. They may hesitate to do so out of fear of retaliation.
Sexual assault is extremely common in these populations, as shown by the following statistics:
- Child sexual abuse affects 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys
- In the U.S., 28% of youth ages 14–17 have been sexually victimized
- Among elderly individuals, 33.4% reported psychological abuse; 1.9% reported sexual abuse
- Individuals in U.S. immigration detention facilities raised over 33,000 complaints of sexual assault or physical abuse between 2010 and 2016
- In 2018, there were 27,535 allegations of sexual assault in prisons
It is our mission to stand up for vulnerable individuals who have been sexually assaulted.
Contact Melissa Hague, an experienced sexual assault lawyer, for a free consultation if you or someone you know has been sexually abused. She will listen to you and fight for your rights.
Defining Sexual Assault and Abuse
The term sexual assault refers to any type of touching or coercion that induces someone to perform a sexual act against their will or without their consent. In essence, this type of abuse revolves around exerting power over others in order to sexually manipulate them.
Here are a few examples of sexual assault:
- Harassment or unwelcome sexual contact
- Trafficking or exploitation
- Masturbating or exposing oneself in public
- Watching someone engage in private acts without their knowledge
- Sharing of sexual images or pornography against someone’s will
If there is no consent from the individual, other sexual activities may be regarded as sexual assault. Consent must be freely given, without duress or manipulation, and without being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It must be informed and enthusiastic.
Short- and Long-Term Effects of Sexual Assault
When victims suffer sexual abuse, they may experience many short- and long-term effects.
Sexual assault victims should be tested for sexually transmitted infections and receive treatment for their injuries. Women of childbearing age should be tested for pregnancy. Specially trained staff at a local hospital can perform a sexual assault nurse exam (SANE). The purpose of these exams is to preserve evidence and can help build a case against a perpetrator in court.
Victims of sexual assault should seek treatment or seek out mental health counseling as soon as possible. Therapy can help mitigate the risk of severe mental health consequences.
Among the most common long-term health effects are:
- Inability to form trusting, meaningful relationships
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Nightmares, flashbacks, and insomnia
- Fatigue and body aches
- Avoidance of thoughts or feelings related to the trauma
- Refusing to talk about what happened
- Hypervigilance and trouble concentrating
- Lack of interest in enjoyable activities
- Inability to experience positive emotions like joy or satisfaction
- Disordered eating
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Abuse of substances
People who exhibit these symptoms should seek out a therapist who specializes in sexual assault trauma so that they can begin to heal.
An attorney who specializes in sexual assault may be able to help you recoup the medical expenses associated with your recovery.
What Makes Certain Populations More Vulnerable?
Because children, seniors, immigrants, disabled people, and prisoners have less power than those in authority, they are at higher risk for sexual assault. Children are under the control of their parents or other adults. Elderly people may have cognitive or physical disabilities that require a caregiver.
Recent immigrants may not have completed residency requirements and may not be fluent in the language. Inmates are controlled by guards and law enforcement officers.
Vulnerable populations may hesitate to report incidents of sexual assault by caregivers or authorities because they fear the repercussions of filing a report or simply do not know how to do so.
Having a sexual assault lawyer on your side can ensure that you receive compassionate legal assistance. It will give you the chance to tell your story and stop the abuser.
What Can I Do To Help Vulnerable People Seek Help for Sexual Assault?
If you believe that someone you know has been abused or assaulted, you should talk to them if they are willing. Have a conversation in a safe environment and ask what has happened. Talk about any behaviors that seem out of character for them.
You should contact local police authorities right away if you see a vulnerable person being sexually assaulted. In addition, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE to speak with an advocate.
When the victim cannot or does not want to report the sexual assault themselves, you may want to consult with a lawyer. An attorney will advise you on whether you can file a lawsuit on behalf of a victim and what steps you should take.
How a Sexual Assault Attorney Can Help Victims
In order to understand the assault and the circumstances surrounding it, a sexual assault lawyer will compassionately speak with the victim. All discussions with a legal representative are 100% private and confidential.
Because sexual assault is such a traumatic and personal experience, it’s vital to work with an attorney you’re comfortable with. Melissa Hague supports victims by helping them pursue their attacker in court. She specializes in helping victims overcome the trauma they have faced.
Civil lawsuits can help victims get justice. Unlike a criminal case, a civil case will not result in a criminal sentence but may allow you to collect compensation for damages. Medical expenses, loss of income, and emotional distress can be compensated with monetary damages.
Overcoming Sexual Assault
Sexual assault victims have undergone a highly traumatic experience. Melissa Hague is committed to helping victims heal after sexual assault.
Schedule a free, confidential consultation with Melissa today.
Her passion is helping those who have been sexually assaulted obtain justice and spread awareness about their experiences.