Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers in Pennsylvania
Carrying dreadful experiences into adulthood is a stark reality for many victims of child sexual abuse in Pennsylvania.
Sexual abuse is, unfortunately, more widespread than most people realize.
However, there is hope in the shape of recent and proposed legislation, which will make it easier for victims to come forward and hold perpetrators and their institutions accountable. Finally, more victims can get the justice that has so far escaped them.
The child sexual abuse lawyers at Andreozzi & Foote are committed to helping victims move on with their lives and will guide you through the first important steps, starting with a free case evaluation.
UPDATE: HB 963 to extend the statute of limitations on sexual abuse
What is child sexual abuse?
Child abuse takes many forms – from neglect of a child’s needs to violence against a child.
One of the most abhorrent forms is sexual abuse and, because of the unpalatable nature of such crimes, it is a topic that is difficult for people to confront.
Child sexual abuse can be physical or non-physical. It involves contact between an adult or minor (a person aged under 18) and a child (aged under 16), resulting in sexual stimulation/gratification for the adult or minor.
Greater acknowledgement and awareness of the problem is required so that more parents recognize its tell-tale signs and more people who witness it come forward.
It is our public duty to hold abusers accountable for their actions against the most vulnerable members of society – notably children, the elderly, the handicapped, and the sick.
What types of sexual violence are children exposed to in Pennsylvania?
We need to be more aware of the types of sexual abuse that occur in our society. Violence comes in many forms.
Remember, a child cannot legally give consent to sexual activity, so sexual abuse can never be considered a child’s fault.
Following are all examples of child sexual abuse that we have encountered in Pennsylvania:
- Rape of a child
- Sexual assault of a child
- Incest with a child
- Touching or fondling of a child
- Grabbing or groping of a child
- Forcing a child to be photographed in an obscene manner (pornography)
- Sexual harassment of a child
- Causing or allowing child trafficking (generally for prostitution)
- Using a controlled-substance to impair a child for sexual exploitation
- Sexual or anti-LGBTQ bullying
- Exposure and voyeurism
The above actions can all be punished by law. Any party that fails to make a reasonable effort to prevent the abuse of a child can also be prosecuted, depending on the circumstances.
It may be hard to stomach but 90 percent of sexual abuse cases are perpetrated by a family member or someone the child knows – often within the family:
- 37 percent of abusers are biological parents
- 23 percent of abusers are non-biological parents or parents’ partners
- 40 percent are other people whom the victim knows (friends, childcare professionals, teachers, clergy, sports coaches, etc.)
(Source: Sedlak et al., 2010)
There is no question that child sexual abuse is more common in some social environments. Understanding the social context that fosters abuse is important. Generally speaking, we see it most commonly where:
- Violence is condoned
- Power and authority over others is granted
- Few checks and balances exist for positions of authority
- Vulnerable people are dependent on adults
- Masculine hierarchies exist
- Women are subjugated
- A policy of silence and secrecy exists
In short, oppressive environments where power can be exploited promote child sexual abuse more than environments that are free and open – largely because they provide a “cloak” behind which perpetrators can hide their actions.
Sexual abuse: children and teens are at most risk
While sexual abuse can occur at any age, children and teens are especially at risk.
Abusers prey on the vulnerable, and children are often unable to understand what is happening or repel the risk.
A few alarming statistics highlight the dangers posed:
- 3 percent of female victims of rape were first raped when they were 10 or younger
- 8 percent of male victims of rape were first raped when they were 10 or younger
(Source: Black et al., 2011)
How can you recognize a child abuser?
Many serial child abusers have honed their behavior into a well-developed system that preys on their victims.
Their actions often follow a pattern. Individuals may work themselves into positions of trust and look and act like trustworthy people.
Often, they target vulnerable individuals and begin a “grooming” process. They lavish attention on their victims, earn their trust, and actively blur the boundaries between what is acceptable and what is not.
They frequently isolate their victims and test their boundaries by noting their reactions to inappropriate suggestions or even mild abuse before committing more serious acts, carefully covering their tracks and avoiding suspicion.
They are so accomplished at doing this that parents and coworkers often do not notice the signs.
However, as a parent or colleague, you should be alert to some of the most obvious warning signs of behavior that could lead to abuse, such as:
- Insisting on physical contact with a child (hugging, touching, tickling or wrestling)
- Offering to babysit for free
- Requesting sleepovers with particular children
- Making unusual and repeated requests that isolate children from their parents and others
- Bringing up age-inappropriate topics
- Excessive staring at children, especially while changing clothes
- Dressing inappropriately around children
- Socializing more with children than with adults
- Buying expensive gifts or giving money to children
- Excluding other adults from activities
What are the long-term effects and symptoms of child sexual abuse?
Unfortunately, the victims of child sexual abuse must often carry the emotional pain of their ordeal into adult life, long after the physical signs of abuse are gone.
This can leave a lifelong mark on victims that some never completely recover from. Attaining justice and having the courts recognize that they were wronged helps many with the healing process.
Some of the long-term symptoms experienced by child sexual abuse victims include:
- Eating disorders
- Personality disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Relationship and intimacy issues
- Sleep disorders
Victims may also suffer serious physical effects long after the abuse, such as:
- Reproductive health problems
- Gastrointestinal health problems
- Cardiopulmonary symptoms
Studies show that victims of child abuse are more likely to suffer from ill-health in adult life.
Jeremy you had a section with the header: What do Pennsylvania sex offenders look for in children?
I have excluded this as it is not needed for the word count and seems to be going a little too deep into this for a service page – maybe a blog topic if the client wants this subject covered?
How can you protect your child from abuse in Pennsylvania?
There are some steps you can take to minimize the risks of your child being the next victim:
- Encourage your child to talk openly with you about what happens in their day
- Urge your child to let you know if anyone hurts or frightens them in any way
- Educate your child about physical boundaries – what is acceptable and what is not during contact with another adult
- Build a trusting relationship where a child is not fearful of an angry response if they tell the truth
- Be vigilant of all adults who teach, supervise, or monitor your child
- Refuse to leave your child in the presence of someone you have doubts about – regardless of who it is
- Provide permission for your child to refuse to obey an adult if they think the request is wrong
- Follow through with your “gut instincts” – if you have concerns, make sure you speak to someone
Help for child sexual abuse victims in Pennsylvania
If you would like the child sexual abuse lawyers at Andreozzi & Foote to evaluate your case, please call 1 (877)-214-3238 for a free consultation.
All the information you provide will be treated confidentially, including your identity.
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Ben and Nate are great guys. They walked me through the whole process, from beginning til the end. The receptionist and very nice. Answer all my questions and concerns. I will refer them to anyone. Their not like other lawyers that talk around the topic. They tell you just how it is or how they believe it will be. Thank you guys so much.
Ben and Nate took their time in handling my case with compassion and care. I never had to wonder what was going on. They always made sure to include me in each and every decision that needed to be made before they were made. Their entire staff was always very polite and knowledgeable. I cannot say enough kind words about Andreozzi + Foote; they are simply the best!
One of the best personal injury lawyers in the country. Great experience. Really genuine people at Andreozzi and Associates.
Handled our case SO well even though it took a long time to settle, and STILL helps us with paperwork related to the settlement account every now and then. They were honest with us from the get-go, worked REALLY hard on our behalf, and always kept in touch with us about what was going on. So pleased.
When you and your child are victims of a horrid crime it’s hard to understand why things are the way they are. Information and answers are what you want, but unfortunately the system doesn’t offer that. Nathaniel has fielded and patiently listened to a broken mother wanting nothing more than for someone to help her understand why she has no answers, and through these phone calls Nathaniel has been very informative, honest and upfront. I would recommend Nathaniel and this firm to anyone who is seeking answers, help and professionalism in a firm when going through such difficult times.
Can’t say enough about the kindness and compassion of this law office. They helped me immensely with a difficult case and the level of support they provided me was stellar.
It is impossible to put into words our gratitude for Ben and Nate through the most trying time of our life. As scared, confused, and traumatized parents, the isolation and loneliness of litigation are abysmal. In the beginning, everyone surrounding you has endless bright ideas and can’t say enough how you should pursue action, but then when it comes down to it, these cheerleaders are suddenly silent and nowhere to be found in what feels to be your darkest hour. Thank God we had these two extraordinary men at our side from the moment we contacted them. Their friendship, counsel, and sound resolve to do everything they could in order to balance the scorecard meant more than we can ever convey, and is simply immeasurable. If we had known how simple this seemingly horrific ordeal would’ve been with their help from the start, we wouldn’t have agonized a single minute over doing what we did. If you are in a similar position as I’ve described, take advice from someone who’s been through the worst, thankfully with the best. Call them!