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What Qualifies as Sexual Abuse, What are Damages & What Factors Influence Case Value?

Jun 03, 2024


Sexual abuse encompasses a wide range of non-consensual sexual behaviors that are inflicted upon a person. Here are the main categories and examples of what qualifies as sexual abuse:

1. Non-Consensual Sexual Acts

  • Rape: Forcible intercourse or penetration (vaginal, anal, or oral) without consent.
  • Sexual Assault: Any unwanted sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent, including groping, fondling, or forced kissing.

2. Child Sexual Abuse

  • Molestation: Any sexual contact or behavior with a child, including touching, fondling, or penetration.
  • Exploitation: Involving a child in sexual activities for the abuser’s gratification, financial gain, or other benefits.
  • Child Pornography: Producing, distributing, or possessing images or videos of children engaged in sexual activities.

3. Sexual Harassment

  • Unwanted Advances: Persistent, unwelcome sexual advances or propositions.
  • Quid Pro Quo: Demanding sexual favors in exchange for job benefits or promotions.
  • Hostile Environment: Creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or learning environment through sexual jokes, comments, or behaviors.

4. Sexual Coercion

  • Manipulation: Pressuring or manipulating someone into sexual activity using threats, blackmail, or emotional manipulation.
  • Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault: Using drugs or alcohol to incapacitate someone to engage in sexual activity without their consent.

5. Exploitation and Trafficking

  • Sex Trafficking: Forcing, coercing, or deceiving someone into sexual acts for commercial purposes.
  • Prostitution under Duress: Forcing someone to engage in prostitution through threats, violence, or other forms of coercion.

6. Voyeurism and Exhibitionism

  • Peeping: Secretly watching someone engage in private acts, such as undressing or sexual activities, without their knowledge or consent.
  • Indecent Exposure: Exposing one’s genitals to others without their consent, typically to shock or intimidate.

7. Online Sexual Abuse

  • Cyberstalking: Using the internet to harass or intimidate someone with sexual threats or unwanted sexual communication.
  • Revenge Porn: Sharing intimate images or videos of someone without their consent.


Sex abuse cases can involve multiple types of damages, including:

  • Economic Damages: These are quantifiable financial losses, such as medical expenses, therapy costs, lost wages, and any other direct financial impacts resulting from the abuse.
  • Non-Economic Damages: These include compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other subjective impacts.
  • Punitive Damages: In some cases, the court may award punitive damages to punish the perpetrator and deter similar conduct in the future. These are not tied to the victim’s losses but are instead based on the egregiousness of the offender’s behavior.


Several factors can influence the value of a sex abuse case:

  • Severity and Duration of the Abuse: The more severe and prolonged the abuse, the higher the potential compensation.
  • Impact on the Victim: The psychological, emotional, and physical impact on the victim is crucial. This often requires expert testimony from psychologists or psychiatrists.
  • Age of the Victim: Abuse of minors often results in higher compensation due to the long-term impact on their development and life.
  • Perpetrator’s Behavior: Aggravating factors such as threats, coercion, or abuse of authority can increase the value of the case.
  • Evidence and Witnesses: Strong, corroborated evidence and credible witnesses can significantly influence the case’s outcome.
  • Legal Precedents: Previous settlements and verdicts in similar cases within the jurisdiction can provide a benchmark for case value.