Rape and sexual assault are widely understood forms of sexual abuse but there are other forms of conduct that may not be as widely recognized.
Human Trafficking, Stalking and Incest
Most don’t realize that sex trafficking is a huge problem in America. Whether on the street or on the internet, thousands of people each day become helpless victims. Human trafficking is the illegal practice of recruiting, transporting, harboring, obtaining and exploiting victims for the purpose of commercial sex, forced labor, or other services. While most international trafficking is actually for the purposes of cheap labor, human trafficking for commercial sex activity draws more media attention.
The problem of human slavery has been covered in the news recently but it fails to shed light on its magnitude. Human trafficking is a major global issue.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) reported in 2016, that an estimated 24.9 million victims were trapped in modern-day slavery, with those numbers steadily increasing.
Holding traffickers responsible through the civil justice system
Civil lawsuits can be an important avenue for sex trafficking survivors wanting to hold perpetrators responsible and also third parties that facilitate trafficking.
Elsewhere in the country, third parties that have been held responsible include hotels, motels, food industry, electronic marketers (such as Backpage), and others. Locally, human trafficking has shown up in drug and alcohol treatment centers funneling individuals to local businesses looking for cheap labor, individual businesses hiring migrant workers and “housing” them in ways that restrict their liberties, as well as commercial sex activity at truck stops and hotels and motels.
If a criminal case is not brought to court, the victim’s only chance to receive justice is through a civil case.
Stalking is a form of control. It is often associated with other sexual assault or physical abuse. Stalking is generally considered to be a pattern of following, watching, or monitoring another person with the sole intent to harass, frighten, intimidate, threaten, or cause emotional duress.
The act of stalking varies and can include the following:
- Following someone, both on a one-time and on a routine basis;
- Driving past or randomly showing up at someone’s residence, place of work, or school;
- Monitoring a person’s computer, cell phone, or social networking activity (otherwise known as cyberstalking);
- Monitoring a person’s whereabouts via a secretly implanted GPS device on their vehicle or person;
- Sending unwanted letters, gifts, or emails;
- Creating unwanted contact via phone calls and text messages;
- Secretly videotaping or photographing someone;
- Gathering information about a person without their permission via public records, internet searches, private investigators, or by contacting the person’s friends, family members, and acquaintances;
- Threatening to harm the victim’s friends, family members, or pets, or even the victim themselves; and
- Performing damage to the person’s home, vehicle, or other property.
It is more difficult to hold stalkers accountable, but in extreme cases it is possible. Victims can file civil suits whether or not criminal charges have been filed or a criminal verdict has been reached.
Stalking victims may consider civil suits to help restore their lives, particularly if they feel the criminal justice system has failed to produce justice for them.
For example, if stalking has caused a victim to lose their job, move to another state, and pursue extensive counseling and self-defense training just to feel safe enough to leave their home, they are not likely to feel satisfied even if the stalker is convicted in criminal court. But if the civil court awards significant damages to the victim, then they have resources to cover some of the expenses the stalker has caused.
In the vast majority of childhood sexual abuse cases, the abuser is a family member. It is possible to hold such an abuser accountable in a civil case.
Oklahoma law has recently changed to allow childhood sex abuse victims significant additional time in which to sue their perpetrator. In these cases, there is rarely a third party entity that can be held accountable, but there are sometimes other family members who failed to protect the child. The time limits for enablers has not changed and is still quite short. If you are interested in discussing your legal rights in this arena, please contact Koller Trial Law.
Koller Trial Law - Standing up for your rights
Koller Trial Law fights for crime victims against perpetrators of human trafficking, stalking and incest. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a sex crime, contact Koller Trial Law today and let us help you find the justice you deserve. All communications about your case will be kept confidential.