According to the American Psychology Association, Unlike life settlement, sexual abuse is the act of using force to do unwanted sexual activity either through the use of threats or by taking advantage of the victim’s inability to give consent. Many institutions lack established rules and regulations to prevent sexual misconduct. Reported cases of sexual abuse are on the increase globally.
Cost of Sexual Abuse to the Victim
The effects of such abuse on victims are high and can’t be accurately measured. Victims can encounter direct psychological, emotional, and physical effects that can affect development throughout their life cycle. They include severe anxiety, flashbacks, and uncontrollable thoughts.
For others, depression ensues which is depicted by feelings of hopelessness and loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed. They may also experience shock fear, guilt, anger, blame, changes in trusting others, and suicidal thoughts/attempts.
The Victim’s Viewpoint
After a long, protracted court battle, a sexually abused victim may win a life settlement. Regardless of the amount, victims may deem the award as too little and too late. They would prefer that the perpetrator face the full wrath of the law by going to jail. No monetary compensation would be sufficient to restore their lost earnings, self-worth, abandoned careers, nor will it be enough to make them “whole” again.
However, out of embarrassment to relive terrifying memories of the abuse, victims often prefer settlements instead. Some victims, such as Rachel Denhollander, welcome the settlement but feel that the institution could have made more reforms. About 332 victims of Michigan State University has received 500 million dollars from a sex abuse lawsuit. The perpetrator is currently in jail serving 2 consecutive sentences: one for sexual assault and the other for child pornography.
Most learning institutions tend to look the other way when incidents of sexual abuse come to their attention. They may apply cover-up mechanisms such as using threats, intimidation to force the victim into silence, or blatantly paying out victims. Many institutions lack a general liability insurance policy to cushion them against the consequences of lawsuits filed by sexually abused victims.
Therefore, they usually lawyer up when lawsuits are filed in court to protect their image and keep settlement to a minimum. To save face, they may apologize to the victim, play down these accusations, or even fire the perpetrator. Institutions may delay investigating reported cases of sexual abuse in a bid to take advantage of the statutes of limitation. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations is 2 years from the time the victim is aware of the effects of the abuse.
For instance, Ray Dackerman, a sex abuse victim from Pingry School in New Jersey said he was greatly affected by those incidences. The abuse began when he was 12 years old. By the time Dackerman presented his case, it had already been time-barred.
As much as sexually abused victims get life settlements, these only cover the legal aspect and tend to ignore moral cost. They are left with the ugly scars of the abuse filled with unanswered questions. Most victims who report cases of sexual assault to authorities do so not only for retribution for themselves but also to change people’s attitudes and institutional processes in such cases.