While it can leave you feeling as though the world is ending, if your daughter was molested, there are things you can do to protect her and hold her abuser liable.
Below, the victims’ advocates at Edwards Pottinger LLC detail the process parents can take.
What Should I Do If My Daughter Was Molested?
After discovering your daughter was molested, you may be overwhelmed with sadness, guilt, and anger. No matter how you feel, it is important to keep your emotions under control and act rationally during this difficult time. This will better allow you to give your daughter the help she needs during this time.
Determine Exactly What Occurred
Because children do not always have a clear understanding of what molestation is, you may need to ask your child exactly what happened. Write down or record her responses.
Take Your Child to the Doctor
Once you have confirmed what occurred, your first priority is your daughter’s health. As soon as you find out about the incidents, you should take your child to a physician for a full examination.
A rape kit may be the best way to ensure that no potential evidence goes undiscovered. A hospital professional trained to handle sexual abuse cases will conduct the exam. They will use a rape kit with a variety of items to give the victim a full examination and take samples of blood and urine and swabs for testing. Make sure that your child does not shower, change her clothes or do anything that would otherwise get rid of potential DNA evidence.
Even if the abuse occurred a while ago, it is still important to get your child checked out by a medical professional as many medical issues do not appear until weeks or months after the assault. Pregnancy is a serious concern for many female abuse victims and STDs can take time to show up on tests.
The evidence from these rape kits can be essential to proving your case in civil court as it can tie the attacker to the crime and prove that your child suffered injuries as a result of the abuse.
File a Police Report
Once your child is safe and has been looked at by a medical professional, file a police report. Having documentation of your daughter’s molestation can be very helpful to prove your case in court. The police report will detail your version of the events. If your child is not comfortable going directly to the police, call the Childhelp National Abuse hotline at 800.4.A.CHILD for assistance.
File Suit in Civil Court
Once you have gotten your child medical care and reported the incident, it is now time to file your lawsuit. The state will charge and try your daughter’s molester in criminal court; however, this does not help pay for your daughters physical and emotional damages.
That is why it is in your best interest to bring your claim in civil court to recover financial damages from the person who abused your daughter. If the court convicts your daughter’s abuser, proving your case in civil court may be more straightforward. However, you can file your civil suit no matter what happens in the criminal case.
Civil court requires us to prove that the molestation occurred by presenting various forms of evidence. Some of this evidence will include:
Medical records of victim’s injuries
Testimony from your daughter’s doctors
DNA testing results and other evidence from the rape kit
Victim testimony if she is old enough and competent enough to stand trial
Expert testimony on the impact of sexual abuse on a young girl
As your attorneys, it is our job to make sure that the jury understands everything so that it can evaluate the evidence thoroughly. If the jury finds that the perpetrator committed a sexual abuse crime by a preponderance of the evidence, we will have won your case and you will be entitled to recover damages.
Make Sure Your Child Talks to a Mental Health Professional
While the physical wounds may eventually heal, the mental scars can last forever and cause a number of long-term problems such as:
Alcohol or drug abuse
Help your child heal psychologically by getting her the therapy she needs. Many psychologists and therapists are specifically trained to treat children who have been sexually abused. Some of the compensation you recover from your lawsuit will go towards the past and future medical care and psychological care of your child.
You may also consider seeking professional help or joining a support group as a way to handle this situation and give your daughter (and yourself) the necessary support.
Trust Your Case to Us
At Edwards Pottinger LLC, we know it is devastating to find out that your daughter has been sexually abused, often by someone you trust. We will handle all aspects of your lawsuit so that you can focus on your child’s physical and mental recovery, while we aim to give you the best chance at financial recovery.
Call 954-524-2820 to discuss your legal options.