The Healing Effect of the Legal Process For Sexual Abuse Victims


April 15, 2014

Summary: Sexual predators within our institutions leave their victims helpless, vulnerable, self-loathing, and untrusting after their abuses.  We provide victims with a way to reestablish their dignity after the abuse.  When victims sue their abusers, it provides a therapeutic avenue to express their rage and overcome passivity, and it provides the financial means for the victim to avoid or deal with the lifetime of suffering and agony.

When a trusted person within our institutions carries out a sexual abuse, it does a lot of damage, starting with the act of violating the victim.  The act itself is incredibly damaging, and has several far-reaching negative impacts on the victim that are both mental and physical.  These effects include vulnerability, passivity, inability to trust, depression, suicidal tendencies among the mental effects, while the physical effects target the somatosensory system.  These symptoms do not go away; to an extent, they will live with the victim forever.

There are some resources for victims to begin the healing process; mental and physical therapy and counseling are among some of those options.  Perhaps the one growing the most in popularity is for the victim to file a lawsuit against their perpetrator.  In our experiences, we have seen the therapeutic value for the victim when they decide to face their tormentor in court; it gives the victim back some of the power they lost to the abuser when they were violated.  There is research that backs up our first-hand knowledge – Canadian research indicated that while victim claims were for monetary damages, the motivation for filing them were for therapeutic effect more than the money.

The Canadian study did identify stressors for the victim throughout the process, including 84% of all victims reporting some negative emotional aspects to filing a suit, including the sense that the victim lost control over the process.  Empowering our client is precisely where Estey & Bomberger excels; we involve and inform our victims in every step of the legal process.  Estey & Bomberger stands above the rest when it comes to the well-being of our clients for several reasons – one main reason is our philosophy: As advocates for the injured, it is our responsibility and privilege to provide superior legal expertise, obtain full and fair compensation, and to exceed our clients’ expectations.

No lawsuit will ever fully break the emotional chains wrapped around our clients, but our courtroom acumen and our history of settlements is the least we can provide to our victims in helping them in the healing process.


American Counseling Association: The Long-Term Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Counseling Implications

Civil Tort Actions Filed by Victims of Sexual Assault: Promise and Perils

RAINN – Compensation for the Rape Survivor