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Bakersfield Sex Abuse Lawyers: Holding Abusers Accountable

Sexual abuse is a serious problem not just locally in Kern County and California, but also nationally and even worldwide.

  • In Kern County, the sexual abuse lawyers of Chain | Cohn | Clark have helped numerous victims hold the perpetrators of sexual abuse accountable for their actions, including three girls who were abused at the Kern County juvenile hall and the victims of an abuser at Kern County’s North High School. In the latter case, claims were brought against the abuser and against Kern County School District and North High’s principal, dean of students, and a guidance counselor for not doing enough to protect students from the abuser.
  • The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN)—the largest U.S. organization dedicated to stopping sexual violence—reports that a sexual assault occurs in the U.S. every 68 seconds. Approximately one of every six women and about one of every 33 men in the U.S. experiences an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) says that roughly one in every three women worldwide has experienced physical and/or sexual violence from a partner or sexual violence from a non-partner.

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Terms Related to Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence

There are a number of terms related to sexual abuse and sexual violence, so it can be confusing trying to sort them all out.

Sexual assault is a legal term [defined in Section 340.15(b)(1)] of the California Code of Civil Procedure] and includes rape, any form of nonconsensual sexual penetration, and any sexual activity with children under the age of consent (18 years old).

Sexual battery is also a legal term. Section 243.4 of the California Penal Code describes it as nonconsensual touching “for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.”

Sexual harassment is covered in Section 51.9 of the California Civil Code. Sexual harassment occurs when, within a “business, service, or professional relationship,” someone makes sexual demands or engages “in other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature or of a hostile nature based on gender.” These actions must be “unwelcome and pervasive or severe.”

Sexual abuse often involves not just one incident but a pattern of behavior. Sexual abuse can occur within a relationship with a partner (e.g., domestic abuse from a spouse). 

Because of their age and inexperience, children are more vulnerable to sexual abuse than adults. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) (an organization created by Congress in 2000) defines child sexual abuse as “any interaction between a child and an adult (or another child) in which the child is used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or an observer. Sexual abuse can include both touching and non-touching behaviors. Non-touching behaviors can include voyeurism (trying to look at a child’s naked body), exhibitionism, or exposing the child to pornography.”

Sexual violence is a general, non-legal term that, according to RAINN, “refers to crimes like sexual assault, rape, and sexual abuse.” The WHO defines sexual violence as “any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting.” 

Sexual violence includes:

  • Sexual assault
  • Intimate partner sexual violence
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Abuse by doctors, teachers, police officers
  • Elderly sexual abuse
  • Sexual harassment
  • Stalking
  • Forced viewing of pornography
  • Using digital technology to stalk, threaten, or harass
  • Catfishing (using a false online identity to start a romantic relationship)
  • Incest
  • Forced prostitution

The legal team at Chain | Cohn | Clark includes experienced California sexual assault lawyers and sexual harassment lawyers. If you were the victim of any form of sexual violence, contact our sexual abuse law firm to learn more about your rights and how our Bakersfield sex abuse lawyers can help you.

What Are the Warning Signs of Child Sexual Abuse?

The warning signs of child sexual abuse may vary depending on the age of the child and may include:

  • Bruising or bleeding in the genital areas or on underwear or bedding
  • Acquiring a sexually transmitted disease
  • Age-inappropriate knowledge of or talk about sexual topics
  • Fear of particular persons
  • Fear of being away from parents or guardians
  • Regressing to outgrown childhood behaviors
  • Changes in eating habits or personality
  • Losing interest in friends and activities
  • Unexplained health problems
  • Nightmares

RAINN provides a complete list of child sexual abuse warning signs. RAINN emphasizes that “The most important thing to keep in mind when looking for signs of child sexual abuse is to keep an eye on sudden changes in behavior. Trust your gut and don’t ignore your feelings if something seems off.”

Who Is Likely to Be a Sexual Abuser?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 91% of child sexual abuse is carried out by a family member or someone the child knows.

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey conducted by the CDC found that most sexual violence is perpetrated by someone that the victim knows. The following table presents statistics on female rape victims as an example. Note that victims who were raped multiple times may be counted more than once in the survey.

Female Rape Victims
PerpetratorPercentage
Current/former intimate partner47.1
Family member12.6
Person of authority2.7
Acquaintance44.9
Stranger12.8

Our Sex Abuse Attorneys Help With All Kinds of Cases

The Bakersfield sex abuse lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Clark provide legal representation for cases involving sex abuse by:

  • Teachers
  • Law enforcement personnel
  • Neighbors
  • Religious workers
  • Coaches
  • Other people who abuse their relationships with victims

In recent years, many Bakersfield residents have fallen victim to sex abuse by people in positions of power. If you are a victim of sex abuse, our attorneys will fight to ensure your case is heard in a court of law.

Reach Out to a Bakersfield Sexual Abuse Lawyer Today

No one should have to endure sexual violence—yet many people do, every day. If you’re a victim of sexual violence, we urge you not to suffer alone. Contact Chain | Cohn | Clark today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Sexual Violence FAQs

A new California law went into effect on January 1, 2023 that extends the statute of limitations on sex abuse from eight years to 22 years beyond reaching “the age of majority” (i.e., 18 years old). Previously (before 2020), victims of child sexual abuse had to initiate claims against abusers by the time they were 26; now, they have until age 40 to initiate claims.

If a victim was at least 18 years old at the time of a sexual assault, they have (1) 10 years from the date of the last assault or attempted assault or (2) three years from when they realize that an injury or illness resulted from the act to file a claim.

Regardless of your age when you were victimized, Chain | Cohn | Clark’s lawyers for sexual assault can help you understand your rights and file a sexual assault, sexual abuse, or sexual harassment claim.

The fallout from sexual assault and sexual abuse involves more than temporary physical injuries. According to the CDC, the consequences of sexual violence “may be chronic” and can include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Reproductive or sexual health problems
  • Increased likelihood of abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Decreased ability to work or diminished performance at work

Victims are entitled to seek compensation for the treatment of their physical and emotional wounds, pain and suffering, and the enduring effects of the trauma of sexual violence on their lives.

If you’re a victim of sexual violence in any form, you may feel incredibly isolated, reluctant to come forward, or even ashamed of what happened. No one should feel alone in that way.

You can call RAINN’s free, confidential National Sexual Assault hotline (800.656.HOPE) anytime for support and to be connected with counseling or other services in your area.

When you contact Chain | Cohn | Clark’s team of sexual assault lawyers, we’ll support you to:

  • Hold the perpetrator accountable
  • Hold institutions accountable (schools, religious groups, hospitals, etc.) if they were negligent in protecting you from abuse
  • Press criminal charges
  • File a civil lawsuit against those responsible for the sexual assault, abuse, or harassment

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