Sexual Abuse and Victim Rights

Please, do not think you have to fight this battle alone.

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the feelings of loneliness, shame, guilt, and sorrow

Sexual Abuse

The term "Me Too" has become synonymous in our culture with a necessary and powerful movement against sexual abuse and assault. Here at Meridian law, "Me Too" also has important personal meaning for us. Our founding attorney, Michele Braukmann, is herself a survivor of sexual abuse and assault. She has spent decades working on recovering from the pain and trauma created by her own abuse. In doing so, she has intimately realized the critical importance of being a part of a community of survivors.  

When a person has been sexually abused, the feelings of loneliness, shame, guilt, and sorrow can be utterly overwhelming. Too many precious lives are lost because sexual abuse victims are unable to face and recover from their trauma. Michele has personally seen fellow survivors not make it, and she has had to grieve the loss of these beautiful humans. She has also seen, however, the strength and courage of thousands of victims who rise against their abusers, rise above their abuse, and rise towards a strong future. The path is not easy, and in fact, at times, is suffocatingly painful. But, for victims that can stand up to their perpetrators, and build a courageous and strong future for themselves, the miracles are endless. 

Meridian Law takes tremendous pride in its representation of sexual abuse survivors. The shared sense of camaraderie and strength that develops during our legal work on behalf of a survivor is impossible to characterize. We are blessed when a survivor places their trust in us to obtain legal recovery. If you were the victim of sexual abuse, whenever and however it occurred, we would be humbled and honored to represent you. 

Sexual abuse refers to any type of illegal or coerced sexual conduct against another individual. Civil claims, which are the type of claims we can bring on your behalf, to not aim to determine the innocence or guilt of an offender. Instead, they seek to determine whether someone is liable for the injuries sustained as a result of the crime. Thus, a civil court finding that a perpetrator is liable will mean that perpetrator needs to pay the victim or his or her family a certain amount of money. Since civil suits use the “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which is far less stringent than the criminal “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, victims of sexual abuse are often able to recover civil damages even if the perpetrator is acquitted of criminal charges. 

We do not pretend that sexual abuse cases are not complicated and complex. In fact, they can be some of the most difficult cases to handle from a legal standpoint. Many victims were not able to come forward at the time of their abuse -- rightfully so, due to the fear and shame that keeps these traumatic events secret. This can create time limitations for a survivor that must be overcome in pursuing legal relief. At Meridian Law, we are experienced and knowledgeable about the complexities of these time limitations, and we will not stop fighting on your behalf to obtain recovery -- no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. 

Abuse cases are also extremely complex because of the issues involved in determining appropriate relief for someone who has been victimized. One cannot put a "price" upon the costs to a victim's life -- the incomprehensible loss of innocence, the associated fear and shame, and the change to someone's core self. Sexual abuse can truly rob someone of everything they are meant to be in life. However, we personally know that recovery, to the extent that it can be characterized as such after such a horrific event, is possible. One step towards recovery is holding the victimizer accountable. We understand what legal remedies are available to do so. Another step is obtaining the monetary relief a survivor needs to ensure that they receive necessary counseling, mental health care, trauma and addiction treatment, and financial support as they focus upon healing.  

We do not say lightly that "we understand." Only a fellow survivor can truly understand what it is like to experience this trauma. Here at Meridian Law, we are committed to walking every step of this journey next to you. We are committed to being courageous on your behalf. We are committed to holding the perpetrator accountable. We are committed to obtaining the maximum legal relief, including monetary damages, to which you are entitled.  

If you are currently experiencing sexual abuse, or if you suspect someone you know is the victim of abuse, please do not be afraid to seek help. There are resources available to you. No matter how alone you may currently feel, you are not. There are thousands of us just like you, who have escaped the nightmare of abuse. Please pick up the phone right now and call for help. 

The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline is available 24 hours a day. The number is 800.656.HOPE (4673). All you need to do is click on the following link from your smartphone or tablet, and help is just a minute away.   

If you are located here in the State of Montana, we are familiar with many resources in our local communities that can help you escape and recover. These range from therapists and mental health counselors, to medical care professionals, to safe havens for victims. We also know many qualified and caring individuals that can assist you and your family in your path of recovery. Please do not think you have to fight this battle alone. Call us, no matter the day or time, and our loving hand is here to help you find the support you need.