Sexual Assualt

Experienced Washington, D.C. Sexual Assault Injury Lawyers

Giving District of Columbia victims a voice when they’re ready to fight

Becoming the victim of a sexual assault can feel like your world is crumbling and everything you once believed to be safe you feel you now must view with caution. You deserve the opportunity to turn the tables by holding the perpetrator accountable for his or her actions.

Nobody has a right to change your life through a violent act and you have the power to stand up and say no. With the Washington, D.C. personal injury attorneys at Paulson & Nace, PLLC by your side, you can file a civil suit that sends a clear message to your attacker that you won’t remain a victim and he or she won’t be able to pretend your life doesn’t matter.

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What is considered sexual assault in the District of Columbia?

In Washington, D.C., statutory law categorizes sexual assault as varying degrees of sexual abuse based upon whether a sexual act occurred or whether it was sexual contact, and the level of malice is taken into account. D.C.C. § 22-30 defines the degrees of sexual assault as:

First Degree: sexual act is committed while:

  • Using force against the victim
  • Threatening death, bodily injury, or kidnapping
  • The victim has been rendered unconscious
  • The victim has been administered a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance that substantially impairs his/her ability to consent

Second Degree: a sexual act is committed while:

  • Threatening or placing the victim in reasonable fear
  • Knowing or having reason to know that the victim is incapable of understanding the nature of the conduct, or providing consent or refusing to participate in that sexual act

The difference between Third and Fourth Degree is that sexual contact occurred instead of rape. The District of Columbia defines sexual contact as “the touching with any clothed or unclothed body part or any object, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.”

We understand that sexual assault can be such a violation that often times victims can experience shock and denial that it occurred, or they are unable to deal with the trauma immediately after the assault.

Filing a police report allows law enforcement to conduct an investigation that makes it possible for charges to be brought against your attacker so he or she can be tried in a criminal proceeding. However, that is not a mandatory step for you to pursue a civil suit against the perpetrator.

Who are the victims of sexual assault in Washington, D.C.?

According to statistics from the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), someone is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds in the United States. One out of six women and one out of 33 men have been the victim of a rape attempt or have been raped during the course of his or her life. For every victim who has been sexually assaulted or raped, the likelihood of becoming a repeat victim increases significantly.

Under D.C. law, anyone can be a victim of sexual assault, including but not limited to:

  • Strangers to an attacker
  • Children who are legally unable to consent
  • Students taken advantage of by teachers, staff, or other students
  • Coworkers assaulted by other employees or contractors with access to the premises
  • A guardian’s ward who may be a minor or mentally incapacitated
  • Patients or clients under a professional relationship where sexual abuse is perpetrated
  • Domestic partners or spouses engaging in domestic violence
  • Male, female, LGBTQIA, any race or religion regardless of custom
  • Human trafficking victims who did not choose to engage in sex work

If you have been the victim of a sexual assault and need help but aren’t ready to go public, you can call to report it while receiving anonymous, confidential counseling or resource recommendations from the following services:

How a D.C. Sexual assault attorney can help

Sexual violence has been trending downward due to law enforcement and civil suits cracking down on assailants, however those who are determined to carry out these heinous personal violations hone their skills, and are constantly creating new ways to manipulate victims when they aren’t using outright force.

You didn’t “ask for it” and you don’t have to accept what happened to you. There is intent behind a sexual assault. Someone set out to injure you and take away your right to feel safe, to feel good about yourself, and to steal your confidence.

As fathers, husbands, and brothers, our family of attorneys take sexual assault very personally and we work hard to protect our clients from experiencing further abuse while pursuing a civil suit on their behalf. If you have been a victim, we are the legal wall that stands between you and your attacker. Even if law enforcement doesn’t feel your case is strong enough to win a criminal trial, the bar to win a civil suit is more attainable and may still give you justice in monetary form.

Lincoln Memorial

What is the statute of limitations for a sexual assault claim in Washington, D.C.?

Typically, a person has three years to file a personal injury claim (though there are exceptions). However, Washington, D.C. recently changed its laws so there is no statute of limitations for sexual assault claims that occurred on or after May 3, 2019. It also created “a 2-year revival period for claims that would have been time-barred” under the old law. That revival period ends in May 2021.

If the assault occurred before May 3, 2019:

  • For the recovery of damages arising out of sexual abuse that occurred while the victim was less than 35 years of age— the date the victim attains the age of 40 years, or 5 years from when the victim knew, or reasonably should have known, of any act constituting sexual abuse, whichever is later;
  • For the recovery of damages arising out of sexual abuse that occurred while the victim was 35 years of age or older—5 years, or 5 years from when the victim knew, or reasonably should have known, of any act constituting sexual abuse, whichever is later.

These statutes of limitations are shorter if you are making a formal claim against the local or federal government. Contact Paulson & Nace, PLLC as soon as possible to ensure you are not time-barred from receiving justice.

Common injuries stemming from sexual assault

Most people hear the terms but don’t truly comprehend what victims go through daily after a sexual assault or rape. Words like psychological pain, and physical or emotional scars don’t adequately describe the injuries inflicted.

Common injuries can include:

  • Depression that can leave victims unable to function
  • Anxiety that can cause panic attacks or difficulty even leaving home
  • Flashbacks that cause victims to relive the experience over and over again
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder that can be a permanent psychological trigger
  • Sexually transmitted diseases that can cause long-term or permanent damage
  • Substance abuse that can bring about legal trouble or death from overdosing
  • Sleep disorders that can cause hallucinations and exacerbate other conditions
  • Eating disorders that can lead to detrimental health issues
  • Pregnancy, which causes psychological trauma from carrying your assailant’s child and having to decide whether to raise or give the baby up for adoption
  • Bruising and internal injuries from use of force or objects, which can also require reconstructive surgery
  • Financial hardship after having to change locks, relocate, miss work, install a security alarm or take a self-defense class

Some victims may be able to seek compensation for:

  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Psychological counseling
  • Current and future lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress and trauma
  • Actual damages such as costs directly related to your attack
  • Punitive damages may be awarded in certain instances

Compassionate Washington, D.C. sexual assault attorneys help you take back your life

Paulson & Nace, PLLC, is a premier personal injury law firm that is privileged to claim more than 40 years of serving our community by helping victims from the greater Washington, D.C. area to West Virginia. If you or a loved one has been sexually assaulted and wants to explore your legal options, we would be happy to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation in a way that puts you at ease. Please call us now at 202.463.1999 or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact form.

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