Any kind of sexual activity that takes place without consent is sexual abuse or, in the civil context, a sexual battery. 

Consent is a clearly understood, ongoing, active, and revocable agreement between two adults. Children are not capable of giving informed consent for any sexual activity. Across the country, the legal age of consent is 16 years old. However, if a teenager between the ages of 16 and 18 engages in sexual activity with an adult in a position of trust, dependency, or authority, the experience is considered sexual exploitation. 

Sexual exploitation is a form of non-consensual sexual abuse whereby an adult exploits a young person’s trust in their position of authority. Sexual exploitation occurs when the adult in this relationship:

  • Directly or indirectly touches any part of the young person’s body for a sexual purpose, either with a part of their body or an object, or:
  • Invites, counsels, or incites a young person to touch another person’s body for a sexual purpose, including their own.

If an authority figure uses their position of power within an organization, such as a school or religious institution, to carry out sexual abuse against someone in their care, the leadership of these organizations may be considered partially to blame. If an organization was aware that an imbalance of power within their institution led to sexual abuse and neglected to report it to police, or turned a blind eye to a history of assault, its leadership may be considered liable for damages suffered by victims as a result of systemic, institutional sexual abuse.

Institutional sexual abuse often impacts vulnerable or disempowered individuals within the context of a larger organization. Victims often include children, people with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities, inmates, and indigenous women and youth. In Halifax, institutional sexual abuse may be perpetuated by:

  • Churches, and other religious organizations
  • Educational institutions 
  • Psychiatric hospitals
  • Correctional facilities
  • Sports leagues
  • Recreational organizations (ie. summer camps, extra-curricular programs)
  • And more

Even government organizations may be responsible for fostering a culture of systemic sexual abuse. Even decades after their closure, indigenous survivors of the province’s government-sanctioned residential schools continue to experience trauma resulting from institutional sexual abuse.

Surviving sexual abuse can have long-term emotional repercussions, including pervasive feelings of anxiety or depression, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is especially true for those who were assaulted or exploited as children or teenagers.

People who have survived sexual abuse are entitled to pursue legal action against their abusers and, in certain situations, against their employer or other institutions responsible for introducing them to their abuser. Even if the abuse took place many years in the past, sexual abuse lawyers with experience in Halifax may be able to help survivors in their pursuit of justice.

Free Consultation for Halifax Residents – We Don’t Get Paid Unless We Win

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual abuse, our Halifax sexual abuse lawyers may be able to discuss your case in a free, initial consultation. During this cost-free, no-obligation, initial meeting, our sexual abuse lawyers serving Halifax can sensitively discuss your situation and explain options that may be available to you. 

To book a free, initial consultation and learn more about how our sexual abuse lawyers with experience in Halifax may be able to help, contact Preszler Injury Lawyers today.

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