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How to react to a crime of sexual abuse

Criminal Law
How to react to a crime of sexual abuse

Reacting to a crime of sexual abuse is not easy. Fortunately, today's society is particularly aware of this type of behavior and offers victims all kinds of instruments and resources of support and assistance.

In this sense, medical, psychological and social care is essential for the recovery of the victim. Likewise, legal and police assistance will be necessary to punish the offender, avoid impunity and alleviate the feeling of vulnerability of the affected person.

The crime of sexual abuse

Our Penal Code punishes in its article 181 the crime of sexual abuse. These are defined as the performance of acts that violate the sexual freedom or indemnity of another person without their consent.

The key to this crime lies in the fact that it is carried out without violence or intimidation, since otherwise we would be facing a crime of sexual assault. Therefore, it is necessary that whoever executes the crime prevails by other means.

Among them, the Penal Code cites the use of drugs, drugs or any other natural or chemical substance suitable for this purpose. However, it is not necessary to use drugs to commit a crime of sexual abuse.

Thus, it is common for abusers to take advantage of their situation of superiority over the victim, in the case of a crime that commonly occurs in family or work settings.

In fact, the Criminal Code provides for two aggravating circumstances that consist of: 

1.- Take advantage of the situation of special vulnerability of the victim due to their age, illness, disability or any other circumstance.

2.- Or take advantage of the relationship of coexistence, superiority or kinship for being ascendant or brother, by nature or adoption or related to the victim.

In any case, the penalties reserved for this crime are: 

1.- Imprisonment of one to three years or a fine of eighteen to twenty-four months for the general type. 

2.- Imprisonment of four to ten years when carnal access (penetration) concurs. 

3.- The above penalties in their upper half, when the aforementioned aggravating circumstances occur.

Sexual abuse of minors

Note that when the victim is under sixteen years of age, we will be facing a crime of sexual abuse of minors. In this case, the penalties will be imprisonment from two to six years, or from eight to twelve years if carnal access concurs. 

In addition, specific aggravating circumstances concur with this crime, which involve the application of the sentence in its upper half and include:

1.- Situation of special vulnerability of the victim.

2.- Joint commission by two or more people. 

3.- Prevalence of coexistence situation, superiority or kinship.

4.- Endangering the life or health of the victim, intentionally or due to gross negligence. 

5.- Commission within a criminal organization or group.

Separate mention would need the crime of rape or sexual assault, which is what qualifies the conduct when violence or intimidation occurs and there is or is not, respectively, carnal access.

How to react to a crime of sexual abuse? 

As recommended by our law firm, collaboration is key at the time an assault or sexual abuse is detected. It is essential that whoever witnessed or knew the victim attend to the victim, check their physical and emotional state and ensure that they are not in immediate danger.

The most advisable thing would be to request medical, legal and police assistance. The victim may not want to initiate procedures or undergo examinations and other procedures. It is important to respect their will, which does not prevent reporting the situation once the victim has been attended to.

There are public care and guidance services for these situations. Therefore, it is best to use them. If you are unaware of these resources and services, you can consult the police.

It is common for the victim of sexual abuse or assault to feel troubled, not knowing if they want to report it, and wanting to wash and change their clothes immediately. But this could destroy evidence, so it's a good idea to first undergo a forensic exam and understand both the consequences of reporting and not reporting.

Above all, it is essential when caring for the victim to approach the situation calmly. Offer a safe space without judging or imposing decisions and help you contact the authorities and people you trust.

The action of the authorities before the crime of sexual abuse

The crimes of assault and sexual abuse are unfortunately still frequent in our current society. However, this means that the authorities are aware and have the resources to assist the victims.

We must bear in mind that health personnel have the obligation to report these crimes when they suspect that they are dealing with a victim. Likewise, schools and educational centers have protocols for the case of detection of abuse in the family environment. And the same happens with the Security Forces and Bodies. 

Consequently, once the alerts go off, institutional tools will be put into play, which seek to offer the victim comprehensive care. The Prosecutor's Office will prosecute the aggression or abuse, and the victim must know that they have the right to participate in the process.

The attention of lawyers specialized in crimes of sexual abuse 

When participating in criminal proceedings, it will be essential to have the support of criminal lawyers specialized in crimes of assault and sexual abuse. Although all criminal proceedings have their particularities and a high degree of specialization, crimes against freedom and sexual indemnity are particularly sensitive.

A broad knowledge of criminal law should be accompanied by empathy and the ability to protect the victim. That is why it is important that you look for the right office, not content with any option.

The criminal process will not only be aimed at punishing criminals, but also at repairing the damage, making the victim see that she is not alone and that society condemns the aggression or abuse she has suffered. The impunity of the offender can be especially frustrating in these cases, causing a feeling of abandonment and helplessness.

Contact us, and our expert lawyers in crimes of sexual abuse will study your specific case.

We can assist you in person at our offices in Barcelona, ​​​​Madrid and Reus. In addition, we can also serve you remotely (videoconference, telephone, etc.), since we offer legal services in matters of sexual abuse crimes at a national and international level.