If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, if you have experienced the shock, confusion and pain known only to those who have experienced the traumas of sexual abuse, it is understandable that you may be hesitant to report your experience. You are not alone. While sexual abuse is an incredibly serious issue which can have devastating long-term consequences for the survivors, it is also under reported.
Survivors of sexual abuse are often hesitant to request help from the authorities for a number of reasons. Many are concerned about the daunting and potentially invasive prospect of court proceedings, which many consider a revictimization. Survivors may also be concerned that their stories will not be taken seriously by authorities. According to Statistics Canada’s 2016/2017 report, less than half (42%) of all criminal sexual assault cases result in a finding of guilt.
As a survivor of sexual abuse, you may not be aware or may not even consider the possibility of recovering financial compensation, but you have a right to restore any emotional and physical injury that you have suffered. You have a right to seek that compensation from your abuser through civil court proceedings. The landscape of civil court proceedings for tortious conduct involving sexual battery is markedly different from the criminal justice system. In civil court there have been significant developments and trends regarding compensation for the harm and suffering of those who have survived sexual abuse.
Since the “Me Too” movement in 2017, Canadian Courts have shown great sensitivity and understanding towards survivors of sexual abuse and have awarded higher and higher general damage awards for sexual abuse. In the decision, John Doe (GEB #25) v The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s, Justice Faour conducted an extensive examination of damage awards in Canadian sexual abuse cases and stated:
These awards range from a low of $98,000 (in current dollars) to a high of $347,293. it is clear that over time the awards have increased significantly, reflecting the change in the view of the courts towards impacts of child sexual abuse.
It is not uncommon that traumatic instances of sexual abuse will result in past and future loss of earnings which can result in even greater compensation. This is the result of the court’s understanding that common psychological injuries related to this abuse include: difficulty in forming meaningful relationships, substance abuse, mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorder, suicide ideation, self harming behaviour, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, anger, hostility and poor self-esteem. These are all long-term consequences of sexual abuse that may impact your ability to achieve self sufficiency and your abuser is responsible for any injury they may have caused.
Any survivor of sexual abuse may pursue their abuser at any time as conduct related to sexual abuse is not subject to British Columbia’s limitation legislation. It should also be noted that any judgment that a survivor may obtain against an abuser cannot be discharged through bankruptcy.
At Deer Lake Law Group we are here to support you and empower you in seeking justice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office for a free consultation at 604-430-2345.