Survivors of Violence

Are You A Survivor of Violence?

It is an unfortunate fact in our society that physical violence and emotional abuse strike people of all ages, in all walks of life, in all communities. The following are examples of types of violence that we see:

  • Domestic violence (physical and emotional).
  • Harassment and violence by acquaintances or strangers.
  • Sexual harassment.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Abuse of children.
  • Abuse of elderly persons.
  • Racial harassment.
  • Improper actions by police or other security personnel.
  • Abuse by persons in positions of trust, such as counselors, teachers, pastors, doctors, or nurses.

Any of the above may leave the survivor and the family of the survivor with feelings of hopelessness, powerlessness, and despair. Whether the violence involved is a single event or an ongoing pattern, the effects can be very far-reaching. In an ongoing abusive situation the survivor may feel that it is hopeless to even think of escape.

What Can You Do?

There are many legal protections and concrete remedies available to survivors of violence and their families. There are also confusing and very important choices which must be made, often when the survivor is suffering overwhelming feelings of helplessness and/or anger. If you are the survivor of physical or emotional trauma, you should seek appropriate support and assistance from mental health professionals and you should know your full legal rights and remedies. We can help you understand and pursue your legal rights. We can direct you to support services, advise you as to which legal remedies are available and appropriate for you, and represent your rights and interests. It is important to get good advice and support as early as possible so you can decide what options you wish to pursue. There are many excellent counseling and crisis programs available to survivors of violence. We encourage you to pursue these sources of assistance, as well as to determine your full range of legal rights and remedies so that you can make informed choices.

Legal Remedies

If you are a survivor of violence, there are legal remedies available to you. These may include:

  • Criminal prosecution;
  • Immediate financial assistance, including counseling and other treatment costs;
  • Restraining and protective orders;
  • Reports to appropriate authorities;
  • Lawsuits for damages.

You may be entitled to money damages from your abuser or from persons or organizations who had a duty to protect you in some way. Damages can include medical and counseling costs and other out-of-pocket expenses, future expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. A survivor of violence or abuse is often placed in a position of making choices about legal actions at a time when the survivor is under a great deal of stress. Decisions must be made as to whether to make formal or informal reports to various agencies, insurance companies, etc., and how to respond to a confusing array of questions and demands. Some of these decisions may affect your ability to pursue further legal remedies. It is important to have informed legal advice as early as possible in the process.

What Will It Cost?

In some types of legal action, such as divorce, you pay hourly rates for attorney services and other costs as they are incurred. In other types of legal action, such as lawsuits for personal injuries and damages, the attorney’s time is usually paid as a percentage once you collect a judgment or settlement of your case. It is important to fully discuss attorney fees and costs at the first consultation with your attorney. At the Law Office of Jo-Hanna Read, we fully discuss these matters with you, enter a clear written fee agreement, and provide itemized monthly statements of expenses.