Childhood Sexual Abuse can be broadly defined as any sexual act engaged between an adult and a child under the age of 18, or under the age of 17 in some states, including Illinois. This includes any form of intercourse, touching, pornography, exhibitionism, or any forced sexual act. Typically, behaviors that are sexually abusive involve some sort of touching or contact. However, it may be considered sexual abuse if the behaviors exhibited do not involve any physical contact, such as exposure of genitals or verbal pressure to commit a sexual act. Federal laws state that any sexual act between an adult or a minor, under the age of 18, is considered sexual abuse or assault. By law, consent to an act involving any sexual content cannot be given by a minor.
If you are an adult (i.e. having reached the age of majority, age 18 in Illinois), you may have civil or criminal remedies available to you for sexual abuse which occurred while you were a child or teenager. In Illinois, the applicable statute of limitations provides that a lawsuit for child sex abuse must be brought no later than certain expiration dates which require a statutory computation.
Knowing the sexual abuse definition only scratches the surface of how devastating this type of abuse can be. Adult victims of childhood sexual abuse in Chicago report long-term effects from their early experiences. Some note that they experience trauma, depression and other challenges throughout life. In some cases, survivors need counseling and struggle to form healthy relationships as adults. In other instances, childhood sexual abuse also leads to physical injuries, sexually transmitted diseases and a host of other challenges.
Warning signs of sexual abuse include:
While these signs are not proof of abuse, if you notice them in any minor you know, it warrants further investigation.
Many sexual abuse resources are available in Chicago, including help lines and counselors who are poised to work with survivors. Many survivors of childhood sexual abuse also turn to the law as a resource. For many, seeking sexual abuse representation and filing a claim in Chicago helps them hold the responsible parties accountable and seek justice.
Seeking compensation can also be important for survivors since the effects of abuse can have a financial impact. In seeking compensation, survivors can secure financial resources for counseling, physical treatment of injuries and other expenses, which can help them heal.
If you’re wondering whether the abuse you’ve survived fits the sexual act definition, have questions about statutes of limitations or are wondering whether you have a claim, call (312) 782-4545 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. Our attorneys are compassionate and concerned with protecting your rights while helping you seek justice for your situation.