Filing a Civil Lawsuit for Child Sexual Abuse

Unlike the criminal law process, which punishes abusers, civil lawsuits compensate survivors of sexual abuse.

A civil lawsuit based on child sexual abuse can be brought under a number of different legal theories. In some situations, both the perpetrator and the perpetrator's employer (or another third party) can be sued, either by the child or the child's parents. This article explores the different options.

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Can I Sue for Damages After Childhood Sexual Abuse?

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse may have a right to sue the perpetrator and those who failed to prevent the abuse.

When a survivor of childhood sexual abuse is ready to consider the spectrum of available resources and options, the prospect of seeking "justice" (however the survivor might personally define that term) may become an important objective. In this article, we'll describe what filing a civil lawsuit over childhood sexual abuse might accomplish, the types of losses that might be compensable through this kind of action, and more.

Is a Lawsuit Possible If Sexual Abuse Happened a Long Time Ago?

The law in your state might give survivors of childhood sexual abuse extra time to seek justice in court.

Many survivors of childhood sexual abuse report that the resulting trauma is not only devastating, but also difficult to face. It can take years, even decades for survivors to process and come to terms with the abuse or assault, and getting to a place of comfort and resolve when it comes to taking action over what happened can represent another (often long-term) challenge.

Can Churches Be Held Liable for Sexual Abuse?

An archdiocese, diocese, bishop, and others may bear legal responsibility for acts of sexual abuse committed by clergy.

Churches and other places of worship are meant to be synonymous with faith, sanctuary, and trust. In communities all across the country, people turn to religious organizations like the Catholic Church for hope and guidance. The prominent position of the church is part of what makes sexual abuse committed by clergy so abhorrent and incomprehensible.

Can I Press Criminal Charges If I Experienced Childhood Sexual Abuse?

Prosecutors decide whether to press charges, but a survivor of childhood sexual abuse plays an important role

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse can seek justice through the legal system in civil or criminal court (or in both). In a civil lawsuit over childhood sexual abuse, the survivor files the action directly against the abuser and other potentially liable parties, seeking monetary compensation for harm resulting from the abuse. In criminal court, the survivor's primary role is as a witness.

Survivor Resources: Taking Action After Sexual Abuse

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse have a wide array of options and resources.

For the great majority of survivors of childhood sexual abuse, the path forward is an extremely personal one. If you feel it might be time to take a first step, small or big, toward getting help and understanding your options, there is a wide spectrum of resources available.