Sex Abuse and Human Trafficking

What Defines Sexual Assault and Abuse?

Terms like “sexual assault” and “sex abuse” are often used interchangeably. Indeed, there are many commonalities between these terms, but there are also distinct differences in the ways they are used.

At Levin Simes Abrams, we work closely with survivors of sexual assault and abuse and are well-versed in the deep emotional considerations that must accompany their legal needs. As a women-led law firm, our team focuses on uncovering the structures and mechanisms that often allow assault and abuse to occur in the first place.

Contact us at 415-426-3000 if you or a loved one have been affected by sexual misconduct and need legal representation to move forward.

Read on to learn more about how these terms are often used and applied:

What is Sexual Assault?

The term “sexual assault” refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include attempted rape, unwanted sexual touching, forcing a victim to view or perform sexual acts, and rape. It can happen in any type of setting, including social settings, home environments, ridesharing arrangements, and at school or work.

Recently, the terms rape and sexual assault have been used interchangeably, especially in light of high profile cases as well as the #MeToo movement. However, understand that the term covers a broader range of conduct that is unwanted and sexual in nature.

What is Sexual Abuse?

Similar to sexual assault, the term “sexual abuse” is used to refer to a any unwanted sexual activity that is imposed on another person. It can refer more specifically to instances where force or threats are used on persons who are not able to give consent.

Even more specifically, sexual abuse is used to describe ongoing or repeated instances of misconduct, especially where the survivor is a child and the perpetrator knows them closely.

Long-Term Effects of Sexual Assault and Abuse

Long-terms symptoms and effects of sexual assault and abuse include anxiety, fear, post-traumatic stress disorder, feelings of guilt or shame, and shock or disbelief. These can persist for many years and even decades, and many survivors do not open up or make a report until much later in life.

The psychological effects of sexual misconduct can be the same, whether we call it abuse or assault, or whether it is a single incident or a repeated occurence.

Woman with hands folded in front of her in thought

What is Human Trafficking?

The Department of Homeland Security describes human trafficking as involving the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of commercial sex act or labor from an individual.

Every year, millions of people are trafficked worldwide, including in the U.S. Traffickers often use violence or threats, manipulation, and false promises to lure persons into situations where they are trafficked. It happens all over the country, but is especially prevalent near ports like the Bay Area and in border regions.

Breaking the Chain

What many people don’t realize is that human trafficking doesn’t just involve invidiual actors committing a crime. It involves (and requires) an entire chain of people who are aware of the situation and knowingly allow it to happen, usually because they receive some sort of profit from cooperating.

Outstretched arm and hand motioning to "stop"

Human trafficking can involve the coordination of people and groups such as:

  • Trafficking ring organizers
  • Motels and hotels
  • Car rental employees
  • Rideshare operators, such as Lyft drivers
  • Organizations such as schools or after-school programs

Any time a break can be made in one of these links, it helps to expose and uncover other parties that may be complicit and liable. Our job as attorneys is to bring these operations into the open and ensure the light of justice shines most brightly on the darkest corners.

If you suspect any human trafficking activity, report it to authorities, and contact a lawyer who can help initiate an investigation into the matter.

Hire a Lawyer With Experience in Handling Sexual Assault Cases

At Levin Simes Abrams, we know how sexual misconduct can impact a person profoundly. We have worked closely with survivors and understand what is needed to provide them with the support and empathy they need throughout the legal process.

Speaking about one’s experiences takes courage, and we recognize those who have the strength and compassion to come forward, knowing that each report can potentially prevent future incidents from occurring.

If you or someone you know have been sexually mistreated, contact our team of women-led lawyers at 415-426-3000 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We will discuss your situation under private, absolutely confidential terms, and lay out your legal options.

Sexual Assault and Abuse FAQs

What are the 3 types of sexual harassment?

The three types of sexual harassment are outlined as follows:

  • Verbal/written: This can include inappropriate remarks, catcalling, or unwanted invitations through emails or other writings
  • Visual: Exposing another person to offensive or unwelcomed images, such as explicit photos or drawings
  • Physical: Any form of unwanted or unwelcome physical contact, including touching, brushing up against, fondling, and abusive behavior or assaults

While these definitions are usually applied in a work or employment setting, knowing these boundaries can often be helpful in other situations (such as at a school or care program).

What should be your first course of action if you are sexually harassed?

Taking the following steps after an incident can help a survivor protect themselves and lay the foundation for any legal action that follows:

  • Tell the harasser to stop: Make it clear that you don’t consent to the conduct.
  • Get to a safe place: Your immediate physical safety is top priority.
  • Seek medical treatment: This can help provide documentation for further legal action.
  • Report the incident: Doing so can prevent further acts from occurring.
  • Contact an attorney: A lawyer can discuss your rights in a private, confidential setting.

Being subjected to sexual harassment, abuse, or assault can be an emotionally and psychologically jarring experience. At Levin Simes Abrams, we understand how deep the impacts can be on the survivor, and will meet you with respect every step of the way.

You are not alone. Our legal team is here for you.

“Before I reached out, I thought there was no hope for me. I felt so outnumbered but I was treated with the utmost respect, and made to feel like I mattered in the big scheme of things…You’re not alone, and there are people who can fight for you. These are those people.”

– P.A.

We help give a voice to those who have been silenced

Levin Simes Abrams is a majority women-owned and women-managed law firm that compassionately cares about our clients. A large part of our practice is focused on prosecuting sex abuse and human trafficking cases.

We are dedicated to the fight against human trafficking

We pursue justice for victims against hotels and motels that have benefitted financially from their complicity in allowing human trafficking on site. We fight relentlessly to hold businesses liable for sexual exploitation that is perpetrated on their premises.

Business images and logo of Levin Simes Abrams attorneys

We hold abusers and their enablers accountable

We represent clients who have been victims of sexual abuse in foster care settings, schools, religious centers, and medical facilities. We work to hold institutions that enable abusers accountable. At Levin Simes Abrams, we provide a confidential safe space to discuss in depth all the legal options that are available to you.

We fight for the rights of childhood sex abuse survivors

Childhood sexual assault survivors experience lasting trauma that can include seriously debilitating effects on both their physical and mental health, often having to undergo years of costly treatment and therapy on the long road to recovery. Levin Simes Abrams works fastidiously to hold abuse-enabling institutions accountable by fighting for comprehensive compensation for survivors.

Begin your path toward justice with a powerful team beside you

If you or someone close to you has been a victim of sex abuse and/or human trafficking, contact our office today for a free and private consultation to learn more about your legal options. We’re here to help hold abusers and their enablers accountable through targeted, effective civil action. Call or text us at 415-426-3000, or email [email protected], or start a private chat here on the page.

Client Testimonial

“They really helped me get my peace of mind back…I recommend them! They work hard to help make things right.” – K.A.V.