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New Mexico Sexual Abuse Lawyer

If you or a loved one has experienced sexual abuse or sexual assault, you may have legal options available. Contact our New Mexico sexual abuse lawyer at Will Ferguson & Associates to discuss the legal options available for you.

We Support Survivors in Their Search for Justice

No one should ever have to endure sexual abuse or assault. This type of sexual trauma leaves survivors with lifelong wounds. Even though the physical wounds may heal with time, the emotional scars can be felt for life. As you try to navigate your life after experiencing sexual trauma, you can find yourself trapped in a cycle of suffering, and our team of sexual abuse attorneys at Will Ferguson & Associates want you to know that you deserve better.

If you have experienced the physical injuries and emotional scars left behind by sexual violence, you may be unable to fight back on your own behalf. We want you to be able to focus on taking care of yourself, so we are here to advocate for you and hold those responsible accountable for their unthinkable actions. We understand the complex emotions you might be feeling, and we vow to support you through this healing process.

Understanding Sexual Abuse

In simple terms, sexual abuse is any form of non-consensual or unwanted sexual contact from one person that has been forced onto another. This also includes any sexual contact with those under the legal age of consent and those that might be unable to consent due to confusion, coercion, impairment, or intoxication. 

Some examples include:

  • Molestation, which is any sexual act with a child up to the age of 18, generally defined as touching, exposure of genitalia, and taking pornographic pictures
  • Sexual assault, defined as acts of violence where sex is used as a weapon
  • Rape, also known as criminal sexual penetration
  • Statutory rape: In New Mexico, this is defined as a legal adult engaging in sexual acts with anyone under the age of 16, even if it is consensual.
  • Groping, or touching someone using force or coercion
  • Unwanted touching or kissing
  • Indecent exposure, which is knowingly and intentionally exposing one’s genitalia in public view
  • Grooming: The U.S. Department of Justice defines grooming as “a method used by offenders that involves building trust with a child and the adults around the child in an effort to gain access to and time alone with her/him.”
  • Child pornography, defined as intentionally possessing any image depicting any minor engaged in a sexual act

Sexual abuse can also involve a person refusing another person access to birth control or intentionally infecting them with an undisclosed sexually transmitted infection (STI) or disease (STD). 

The Aftermath

Sexual abuse can leave behind many short- and long-term effects. Many survivors experience a range of emotions, as well as physical and psychological scars. Survivors often encounter:

  • Shame
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-harm
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Relationship problems
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Broken bones
  • Pregnancy

Where it Happens

Sexual violence can occur anywhere. Some places seem like more obvious locations for these crimes, such as parties on campus or anywhere alcohol is involved. Bars, concerts, and festivals might also put you at higher risk.

Some abusers use their authority in a position of power as leverage to sexually exploit others, as do those in positions to easily manipulate others. This manipulation happens more commonly to children, though it can affect anyone at any age. It happens at the workplace, in healthcare facilities, and at church.

The New Mexico sexual abuse lawyers at Will Ferguson & Associates believe that holding abusers accountable, even if they are never criminally prosecuted, will lead to a safer environment for everyone.

Liability

The liable party in a sexual abuse case seems like it should be obvious. But when filing a claim, it’s not always against the defendant alone. Determining liability will greatly depend on the circumstances of your case. If the assault happened on a college campus, the university may also be liable on the grounds of negligence. Our sexual abuse lawyers will be able to help you determine who is liable and hold them accountable for damages.

Institutional/Organizational Sexual Abuse

While some abusers act on their own, many are shielded by the organizations they are in. Predators may feel safe to victimize others within a toxic culture full of strict hierarchies, normalization of threats, and fear of restricted access to money and other resources. They may be counting on their organization and those in power to shield them from any ensuing fallout for their actions.

Organizational charges can be filed against institutions such as:

  • Colleges and universities, including related programs and extracurriculars
  • Sports organizations
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Medical facilities
  • Prisons
  • Shelters
  • Foster care homes
  • Teen camps
  • Workplaces
  • Volunteer organizations

You don’t need to prove that an organization is covering up the event in order to file a case. Organizations have the responsibility to keep members safe from harm, and failing to do so is negligence. An organization may have provided subpar supervision, failed to conduct a background check, or even just lack procedures for reporting and responding to sexual abuse. These actions don’t have to be done maliciously for your claim to be justified.

Childhood Sexual Abuse

The sexual exploitation of children is a heinous crime. Those that commit these horrendous acts will face criminal charges.

What You Should Know About Childhood Sexual Abuse

According to the Albuquerque police department, children are most commonly abused by someone they know and trust. They iterate that these victims and non-offending family members are never to blame.

What is Child Sexual Abuse?

Child sexual abuse is a widespread problem. It is estimated that every nine minutes child protective services find evidence of a child experiencing sexual abuse. Thousands of children fall victim to sexual exploitation every year and unfortunately, many cases go unreported.

Child sexual abuse is defined as any sexual act between an adult and a minor, or any sexual act between two minors with an age gap greater than three years. Sexual abuse is not limited to physical acts, but also includes non-physical acts such as showing a child pornographic material or exposing oneself to a child.

Signs That a Child May be Experiencing Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can have lasting effects on a child’s emotional and physical well-being, but it may not always be obvious that they are being abused. Some common signs of child sexual abuse to watch for include:

  • Personality changes
  • Discomfort around someone the child once trusted
  • Unusual interest in their own or other’s genitalia
  • Mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Sudden accidents in a previously potty-trained child
  • Change in eating or sleeping habits
  • Advanced knowledge of sexual acts

If you suspect a child has been sexually abused, it is imperative you seek police help. Then seek legal representation from a sexual abuse attorney so that we can pursue justice for all those involved.

How Long Do You Have to File an Injury Lawsuit for Childhood Sexual Abuse?

In 2022, New Mexico introduced a bill to change the current statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse claims. As of now, there is no statute of limitations on 1st degree felonies, which is a criminal charge. This is limited to the forceful penetration of a child aged 13 or younger. All other child abuse claims must be reported within 3-6 years.

However, the new bill, if passed, will eliminate the statute of limitations on all civil claims for childhood sexual abuse.

If you or someone you know has survived childhood sexual abuse, contact our sexual abuse attorneys immediately. Even if the abuser is deceased, you may still have a claim against those responsible.

Sexual Abuse Legal Actions

Under New Mexico law, sexual assault and abuse is a crime punishable by massive fines, jail time, probation, and registration requirements for life. While it may offer some relief to a victim of sexual assault, a conviction does little to help you get your life back following the experience.

Additionally, if your abuser was never charged or if they eluded convictions, you may feel your options for justice are limited.

Fortunately, laws in New Mexico protect these victims by providing an opportunity to seek justice in the form of a civil lawsuit.

Contact Will Ferguson & Associates today for your confidential consultation to learn how we can file a civil claim and get you the compensation you deserve.

Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Sexual Abuse Case

There are two types of sexual abuse and assault cases in New Mexico: civil and criminal. Both involve victims of sexual assault, with a few key differences.

A civil sexual abuse case is filed in civil court with the victim represented by an attorney. The burden of proof is less substantial in a civil case versus a criminal case and the intention is to recover damages, that is, financial compensation, for the victim.

A criminal sexual abuse case is filed in criminal court and will include both a prosecutor and a defense. The burden of proof is much higher in a criminal case, as it must be proven that a crime happened. Here the intention is to convict the perpetrator and send them to prison for their actions.

What to Do if You’ve Been Sexually Assaulted

If you have been sexually assaulted, here are some steps every survivor should take during the aftermath.

  1. Ensure your own safety
    After experiencing sexual trauma your first step should be prioritizing your safety and well-being. Most people experience shock, derealization, and a sense of overwhelm immediately following an assault. Find a safe space, and do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel comfortable and safer in your own body.
  2. Reach out for support
    Once you feel more physically safe, reach out to a person you trust for support. Talking about the experience is a step toward recovery, but it is crucial to confide in someone you fully trust.
  3. Consider your medical options
    Many survivors may be hesitant to seek medical attention immediately following a sexual assault. A hospital or medical rape center can be beneficial for several reasons. Healthcare practitioners can treat any injuries and help ensure your sexual and physical health. They can also provide you with a rape kit which is extremely helpful in filing a police report.
  4. Consider your legal options
    It is recommended to file a police report, though we understand how difficult that can be to the psychological well being of victims of sexual assault. You can also contact the law offices of Will Ferguson & Associates and we will further discuss your legal options.

Best Time to Seek Legal Help

The best time to seek legal help is right now. The statute of limitations is constantly changing, and while efforts have been shown to rid New Mexico of limitations regarding sexual abuse, nothing is ever for certain. The sooner you are able to receive help, the sooner we can ensure your case is filed and you will be able to begin the healing process.

A pending case can cause undo stress in an already stressful time. Our attorneys aim to reduce this stress and the lasting effects of sexual abuse by providing legal care to our clients.

It iis never too late to seek justice. Even if your assault happened years ago, it is worth it to reach out to find out if there is anything we can still do to help you.

How Sexual Abuse Lawyers Help

It is important to remember that the criminal justice system focuses on criminals. Its concern is not making survivors whole. Civil justice is different, because it aims to help those that have been injured by the acts of others recover damages. You do not need to prove that a crime has been committed, you just need to prove that someone did you harm and you deserve to be compensated for it.

  • We at Will Ferguson & Associates maintain close and personal contact with our clients and hold them in the highest regard.
  • We understand the financial hardship you might already be facing, so you will never owe us legal fees until we secure a settlement or court judgment on your behalf.
  • We will take your case to court and fight for you so that you can get the damages you are entitled to and greatly deserve.

How Filing a Civil Claim Can Help You

If you have had difficulty coming forward, or convincing others to take your case seriously, you may be hesitant to file an injury claim following sexual abuse.

Research done by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that a sexual assault costs the survivor nearly $120,000 in lost productivity, wages, medical treatment, and other needs.

Research shows that 94% of women who have been raped experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 33% of women who have been raped contemplate suicide. Depression, anxiety, and increased likelihood of substance abuse are also all very common following an incident that has already likely caused physical harm.

There are some things money can’t replace. We know damage from a sexual assault can go much deeper than any kind of financial compensation. But we also know that following such a traumatic experience, you shouldn’t also have to worry about how to pay for all the financial loss you experience. Filing a sexual abuse civil claim can help you in your journey to healing.

Compensation For Victims of Sexual Abuse

You deserve any help available, and filing a civil claim can grant you access to compensation for damages such as:

  • Counseling and therapy
  • Inpatient treatment
  • Psychiatric treatment
  • Addiction treatment
  • Emergency room and urgent care visits
  • Tests and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and diseases
  • Unwanted pregnancy, including termination
  • Ongoing medical needs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

You may also be able to claim punitive damages, which are awarded in certain cases to punish sexual abusers for particularly malicious conduct.

Bringing Abusers to Justice

Sexual violence affects millions of Americans every year. Many never report the damage done out of shame, embarrassment, or fear that no one will help them.

Sexual abuse is far too common, with over half of women and a third of men experiencing it during their lifetimes. Almost half of rape survivors were assaulted before their 18th birthday. These are statistics we absolutely cannot tolerate. We consider it our duty at Will Ferguson & Associates to bring abusers to justice and help get survivors all the compensation they deserve.

Having access to these financial means can greatly improve your quality of life and living conditions, making an incredible difference following such severe trauma. We want to help you map out a better future.

Contact Our Experienced Sexual Assault Lawyers

Abusers rely on your silence. If you are a survivor of sexual violence call authorities and tell them your story. Then call us.

Contact the law offices of Will Ferguson & Associates at 505-594-3712 today for a free and confidential consultation to see how we can help you.

Locations We Service in New Mexico:

  • Sexual Abuse Lawyers Albuquerque NM
  • Sexual Abuse Lawyers Belen NM
  • Sexual Abuse Lawyers Bernalillo NM
  • Sexual Abuse Lawyers Los Lunas NM
  • Sexual Abuse Lawyers North Valley NM
  • Sexual Abuse Lawyers Santa Fe NM
  • Sexual Abuse Lawyers South Valley NM
  • Sexual Abuse Lawyers Rio Rancho NM

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