Sexual Assault Victims and Inadequate Security

A lady and a car

Our firm has been recognized as a national leader in representing victims of violent crimes.

First, we have assisted crime victims in situations where security measures proved inadequate. We have represented individuals victimized at shopping malls, hotels, apartment complexes and other premises

Second, we represent employees or customers of businesses sexually and physically assaulted by combative, rogue or unsavory employees.

Third, we represent children, particularly special needs children, tragically victimized by pedophilic staff members who were improperly supervised, or who should never have been hired.

Recovering fair compensation in this area is particularly challenging and requires a thorough knowledge of unusual legal principles, in-depth investigative work and an understanding of the emotional trauma associated with the difficulties crime victims must endure.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

One frequent isue crime victims must endure is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The National Center for Victims of Crime estimates that 683,000 adult American women are forcibly raped each year. (National Center for Victims of Crime & Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, 1992). Nearly one-third of all rape victims develop Rape-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (RR-PTSD) sometime during their lifetimes, and more than eleven percent still suffer from it (National Center for Victims of Crime & Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, 1992).

Traumatic events such as rape frequently may cause both short-term and long-term stress reactions. Those who are unable to function at a normal range or have difficulties in one or more areas may have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

According to the NCVC the four major symptoms of Rape-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder are:

  1. Re-experiencing the trauma
    Rape victims may experience uncontrollable intrusive thoughts about the rape, essentially unable to stop remembering the incident. Many rape victims have realistic nightmares and dreams about the actual rape. In addition, victims may relive the event through flashbacks, during which victims experience the traumatic event as if it was happening now. Additionally, victims are distressed by any event that symbolizes the trauma of rape. Victims avoid talking about the event and will avoid any stimuli or situations which remind them of the rape.
  2. Social withdrawal
    The second major RR-PTSD symptom for rape survivors is social withdrawal. It has been described as psychic numbing, denial and a feeling of being emotionally dead. They do not experience feelings of any kind. One way it shows up in the lives of survivors is a diminished interest in living. It is not that they are suicidal, but they have no interest in their children, in their jobs, and what feelings they do experience have a very narrow range. Victims may not feel joy, pain, or really much of anything; many experience a kind of amnesia. In addition, victims with this form of PTSD may not remember the details of what happened to them.
  3. Avoidance behaviors and actions
    The third set of symptoms of RR-PTSD are avoidance behaviors and actions. Victims may experience a general tendency to avoid any thoughts, feelings, or cues which could bring up the catastrophic and most traumatizing elements of the rape. This may be characterized by refusing to drive near the spot where the rape occurred.
  4. Increased physiological arousal characteristics
    There may be an exaggerated startle response—hyper-alertness and hyper-vigilance—which requires that the victim pay attention to every sound and sight in their environment. Many experience sleep disorders which result in poor sleep patterns for chronic RR-PTSD victims, such as trouble falling or staying asleep. In addition, memory may be impaired, and many victims have difficulties concentrating, which effects tasks that must be completed in their daily lives. Victims may exhibit a kind of irritability, hostility, rage and anger that produce further isolation.

According to the NCVC, some new research indicates that certain physiological changes in the brain may be permanent conditions. Some survivors with RR-PTSD are unable to accurately gauge the passage of time. Consequently, they are likely to show up for appointments late, early, or not at all. Another possible permanent side effect is a kind of tunnel vision. Victims may be unable to see the "big picture" which results in difficulty distinguishing between a little crisis and a big crisis. Therefore, all events in their lives are viewed as crises.

In their attempts to cope with RR-PTSD symptoms, many victims may develop major depression. In attempting to cope with the above symptoms, drug and alcohol consumption are likely to be companions in the victim's attempt to gain relief from these symptoms.

Help for PTSD

With a growing body of knowledge about RR-PTSD, help is available through most rape crisis and trauma centers.

Support groups have been established where survivors can meet regularly to share experiences to help relieve the symptoms of RR-PTSD.

For some survivors, medication prescribed along with therapy may prove the best treatment.

Our links will help you find resources, information, counseling options, and rape crisis hotlines.

Case Results for Sexual Assault Victims and Inadequate Security