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Victims of sexual abuse can suffer a lifetime of physical, mental, and emotional damage that can negatively affect the way they live their lives. While the criminal justice system can punish the perpetrators for their heinous acts, the civil court can help victims achieve justice by holding the perpetrators liable for monetary damages such as lost income, emotional distress, as well as pain and suffering.

If you or your child has been the victim of sexual abuse in Southern California, our Los Angeles sex abuse attorneys at Levin & Nalbandyan, LLP can help you hold the negligent party liable for their actions and recover your entitled compensation. With decades of experience and millions of dollars won on behalf of our clients, we understand how to build a strong and personalized case to achieve justice for sex abuse victims.


Although there is no specific legal theory—or cause of action—to file a personal injury lawsuit for sexual abuse, victims have other legal theories available to them to pursue a case in civil court. Common examples include intentional infliction of emotional distress or assault and battery.

Since these sex crimes are egregious and grossly negligent in nature, juries typically award very high damages, ensuring the perpetrator is liable to pay an immense amount of money to the victim. In addition, a civil lawsuit can be brought against additional parties such as school, churches, business and other institutions based on negligent supervision or failure to provide proper security.


Many people, especially children, don’t admit being the victim of sexual abuse or even don’t believe they are victims at all. Rather, they will display emotional, behavioral, and physical changes that may appear out of character to those who know them.

Common emotional signs of sexual abuse include:

  • Depression such as constant crying, low self-esteem, withdrawal, or suicidal thoughts
  • Severe anxiety such as clinging or nightmares
  • Severe anger such as unmitigated aggression, tantrums, or increased irritability

Common behavioral signs of sexual abuse include:

  • Sudden behavioral changes
  • Changes in grades, schoolwork, or focus in academics
  • Unexplained fears of specific places and types of people
  • Fear of spending time alone with a specific individual
  • Fear of being touched
  • Reverting to activities and tasks performed when they were younger
  • Delinquency
  • Substance abuse
  • Self-harm such as self-mutilation or unexplained recklessness
  • Excessively playing with their own private parts
  • Engaging in sex play with toys, friends, and pets
  • Creating drawings that depict sexual acts
  • Inappropriate and unusual questions regarding sex

Common physical signs of sexual abuse include:

  • Issues sitting or walking
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Physical pain or itchiness in their private areas
  • Blood stains or other forms of discharge found on undergarments
  • Wetting their clothes or the bed
  • Sleeping issues
  • Eating less or more than usual
  • Stomachaches


If a plaintiff proves a defendant is liable for sexual abuse in a civil case, they are entitled to the same damages that are available to personal injury victims. The three types of damages include economic, noneconomic, and punitive damages.

Economic damages entail tangible losses caused by the sexual abuse. Common examples include past and future medical expenses, on-going psychiatric care, and lost wages due to the inability to work or perform their job.

Noneconomic damages consist of the types of harm the victim suffered and will continue to suffer as the result of sexual abuse. Common examples include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment in life, and loss of consortium.

Punitive damages are only available if the defendant maliciously and intentionally causes harm. The main purpose of such damages is to punish the defendant for their actions and deter similar conduct by making an example out of the defendant.

Common types of sexual abuse include:

  • Forced penetration without consent
  • Forced sexual touching
  • Unwanted oral sex
  • Forcing another person to view pornographic materials
  • Taking and/or distributing sexual images without consent
  • Exposing private parts to another individual or forcing someone to expose themselves
  • Making unwanted sexual requests

In order to prove sexual abuse in civil court, the plaintiff must show that it is more likely than not that the perpetrator committed the alleged abuse, which is lower burden proof compared to criminal court. The plaintiff can bring in evidence from a criminal case to use as evidence in a civil case, according to the “collateral estoppel” rule. Even if there weren’t any criminal charges filed, a plaintiff can still bring a civil case.


Our Los Angeles legal team can investigate your case, collect evidence, talk to potential witnesses, and create an effective legal strategy to maximize your entitled award. While there is nothing we can do to take the pain away, we can help you get your life back on the right track.

We’re dedicated to every client and every case

“At the offices of Levin & Nalbandyan you get the help from very professional people like Harry Nalbandyan and his team. They work with you, they know what they are doing and they get things done.”

L. C.
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