Sadly, the trauma of sexual abuse can last a lifetime. Survivors of sexual abuse often spend years suffering in silence and bottling up the abuse. While inevitable consequences may be anticipated or expected, there are often unexpected long-term consequences of sexual abuse. If you are a survivor, you deserve justice, perhaps criminally and financially. Even if years have passed, it may still be possible to hold your abuser accountable through a civil lawsuit—but these lawsuits can be complex. If you are a sexual abuse survivor, it is imperative to consult with a sexual abuse lawyer in Seattle. At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC, our Seattle sexual abuse attorneys will be a fierce advocate on your behalf. 

What Is Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual conduct, sexual activity, or sexual assault by a perpetrator using force, making threats, or taking advantage of someone unable to consent. Generally, sexual abuse is any ongoing conduct or behavior that occurs over time.

Sexual abuse often occurs because of a power imbalance between the victim and perpetrator. Examples of these dichotomies can sometimes be apparent or less obvious, including:

  • Adults and children,
  • Doctor and patient,
  • Teachers and students,
  • Coaches and student-athletes, 
  • Scout troop leader and scouts,
  • Nursing home residents and caregivers, and
  • Clergy members and parishioners or church volunteers.

Remember, the above list is not exhaustive. So even if you do not see your specific situation listed, it could still be considered sexual abuse. Sexual abuse of any kind is unacceptable and should never be dismissed.

What Compensation Can I Seek?Seattle sexual abuse lawyers

If you were sexually abused and live in Seattle, you should speak with a sexual abuse attorney in Seattle at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC. We want to hear your story, assess the best way to help, and provide guidance on how to best proceed with your case. Building a solid case can be challenging, especially if some time has passed. However, it is not impossible, and our lawyers have the knowledge and resources to build a successful claim to recover compensation.

Sexual abuse can have physical and mental consequences, leading to insurmountable expenses. Damages for sexual abuse claims can go far beyond just reimbursement for costs. A sexual abuse survivor can seek many types of damages.

Medical Expenses

Sexual abuse often leads to significant medical bills that can accumulate over time. These include emergency room visits, doctor appointments, physical therapy, etc. You should not have to worry about the cost of treatment or any associated out-of-pocket expenses. Your focus should be healing and rebuilding your life after the trauma. 

Lost Wages

Most sexual abuse survivors will suffer from lost wages and earnings to some extent. While it may not be as obvious as a car crash victim who misses weeks of work immediately following the accident, it does not make you any less entitled to lost pay. Many sexual abuse survivors will miss time from work by taking unpaid sick time and using vacation days. For some, the trauma may make securing or keeping employment impossible, leading to long-term lost wages. No matter your situation, even one day of lost pay is unjust, and you have a right to be compensated for it. 

Pain and Suffering

Undoubtedly, sexual abuse can lead to physical trauma and injuries, but the mental and emotional toll it can cause is often overlooked or less apparent. Mental pain and suffering are often more painful than any physical injury. While your physical wounds may heal, the emotional turmoil can stay with you for years. Abuse can lead to depression, anxiety, fear, and lack of enjoyment of life. At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC, our sexual abuse lawyer in Seattle can help you take your life back. 

Who Can be Held Liable?

Like most states, Washington takes sexual abuse and sexual assault crimes seriously, as they are often prosecuted as violent felonies. Your abuser can face significant prison time if convicted for their crimes. However, while holding them criminally liable is a massive step toward justice, your remedies do not stop there. You can often pursue a civil lawsuit to keep your abuser financially responsible for their conduct. Depending on the circumstances, you may also be able to hold third parties accountable if they knew and could have prevented or stopped the abuse.


Third-party liability can extend to many types of people or entities. However, a central example of third-party liability for sexual abuse is clergy cases. For instance, a sexual abuse survivor can hold the priest and the church or archdioceses liable if they knew about the abuse or could have prevented it from occurring.

The burden of proof in civil court is notably less than that for criminal prosecutions. As the plaintiff, you must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant engaged in improper sexual acts against your will, causing physical or emotional harm. You are not required to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt in a civil case—that only applies to criminal cases. Notably, a survivor can pursue a civil lawsuit even if there is no criminal trial or conviction.

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Perhaps you are reading this not as a survivor but because you suppose someone you love may suffer from abuse. You should not hesitate to take the necessary steps to stop or report the abuse if you suspect someone close to you is being harmed. 

The signs may be different for everyone, but if you notice sudden changes in behavior, unexplained injuries (e.g., bruises, marks, cuts), and unusual problems sleeping, it can be signs of abuse. Whether you are a survivor or a loved one, the physical and psychosocial effects of sexual abuse can be staggering. Some of the physical consequences of ongoing sexual abuse can include:

  • Injuries (e.g., bruises, broken bones, injuries to private and sensitive body parts);
  • Sexually transmitted infections (i.e., STDs);
  • Unwanted pregnancy; and
  • Gynecological complications.

Psychological and mental consequences can include:

  • Depression,
  • Anxiety,
  • Insomnia and trouble sleeping,
  • Inability to concentrate,
  • Eating disorders,
  • Withdrawal and isolation,
  • Shame,
  • Loss of enjoyment of life,
  • Nervousness,
  • Substance abuse,
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
  • Attempted suicide,
  • Lost interest in sex, and
  • Low self-esteem.

No matter how much time has passed, survivors often feel guilt, shame, embarrassment, anger, and fear well after the abuse has ended. If you survived sexual abuse and struggled with strained relationships, isolation, or any other physical or mental turmoil, you deserve justice.

How Long Do You Have to File a Sex Abuse Claim in Washington?

In most instances of personal injury, the statute of limitations or clock to file a claim starts ticking on the date the injury occurred. However, sexual abuse claims are more complex. Generally, the statute of limitations is three years, but the three years typically don’t start immediately. 

Depending on the circumstances, the statute of limitations can be:

  • Within three years of the survivor turning 18 years old;
  • Within three years of the time they discovered or reasonably should have found that the defendant’s actions caused the injury or condition; or 
  • Within three years of the time the survivor discovered the abuse caused the injury.

Determining whether your potential claim is within the applicable statute of limitations can take time and effort. Our attorneys can review the facts of your case and assess whether litigation can be pursued.

Sexual Abuse Lawyer in Seattle

At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, we prioritize getting you the compensation you deserve while alleviating the stress and worry that often comes with the lawsuit process. Our lawyers are compassionate yet aggressive when facing adversaries. Let us help you. Contact us to schedule a no-cost confidential consultation.