Sexual Abuse in America is a Growing Problem
Estimates provided by UNICEF show that more than 120 million young girls have experienced sexual abuse at one point or another during their lifetime. In the United States alone, a young child is sexually abused every eight minutes. Although we often hear the stories of strangers who cause harm to young children, it is increasingly common for victims of sexual abuse to know their abusers. There are many cases where children are sexually abused by teachers, parents, relatives, siblings, and other trusted authorities.
Unfortunately, one in three girls and one in seven boys will be a victim of sexual assault before turning the age of 18. The increasing frequency that children are being harmed is quite alarming. If you have been subjected to sexual abuse, or your child has been victimized, you may have legal options available to help you recover in addition to taking criminal action against the perpetrator. Reaching out to a sexual abuse lawyer in Massachusetts can make a big difference when it comes to your chances of moving forward and seeking closure.
Repeat Offender Arrested on Child Pornography Charges
Authorities confirmed that 51-year-old Todd Miozza was charged with possession of Child Pornography after being arrested on June 29, 2022, and following an initial appearance inside a federal courtroom in Boston, Massachusetts.
Charging documents show that law enforcement received information that Miozza had shared an unidentified form of child pornography over the Internet by using a social media platform. Authorities searched Miozza’s home and seized his laptop and iPhone. Upon further investigation, authorities found sexual abuse material, including videos depicting infants.
Records show that Miozza was previously convicted of child pornography in 2002. He was taken into custody pending a July 5, 2022 detention hearing.
A person who is convicted of child pornography faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to 20 years in prison. They also face a minimum of five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and fines up to $250,000.
At this time, investigations surrounding this incident are underway.
Child Pornography is a Growing Problem
In 2019, tech companies estimated more than 45 million images, videos, and other materials of children who are being sexually abused. This amount nearly doubled from the year before. Unfortunately, year after year we see this growing trend continue across the United States and the entire world.
Here in Massachusetts, there are many children who are victimized by predators. Victims of child pornography are not only forced to suffer immediately, but they often face long-term consequences as well. Once images and other materials are uploaded onto the World Wide Web, it is nearly impossible to have them removed fully. As a result, the materials continue to be had they distributed across the globe indefinitely.
Victims of child pornography often struggle to move forward. Many victims deal with mental and emotional consequences. Depending on the type of abuse that was performed on them, they may also face physical consequences as well. It is crucial to be able to take immediate action to help your child and to hold the person responsible to account. It is important that parents are able to recognize when their children are being subjected to this type of abuse.
Symptoms of Sexual Abuse
When children are subjected to sexual abuse, they often exhibit various symptoms that help others identify that they are being targeted. Sexual abuse is defined as any type of sexual activity with a child. This type of abuse can involve direct sexual contact, such as intentional sexual touching, intercourse, or oral-genital contact. It can also involve noncontact sexual abuse of a child, which includes exposing a child to sexual activity or pornography, filming a child in a sexual manner, prostitution of a child, sexual harassment of a child, or even sex trafficking.
Children who have been sexually abused may feel extremely guilty, confused, or ashamed. Children may also be afraid to tell others about their abuse, especially if the abuser is a parent, a close friend, or another relative. For this reason, it is crucial to watch for red flags that may indicate that some type of abuse is occurring. These signs include:
- Self-harm or attempts of suicide
- Frequent absence from school
- Being withdrawn from friends or other activities they want to enjoy
- Sudden changes in behaviors, such as aggression, anger, hyperactivity, or even hostility
- Changes in school performance
- Problems sleeping or having nightmares
- Acting rebellious or defiant
- Having unusual fears
- Sudden loss of self-control
There are also cases where children exhibit physical signs and symptoms of abuse. In some cases, they will have injuries that do not match the given explanation. You’ll see unexplained injuries, such as broken bones, burns, and bruises. They may have injuries that are not compatible with the child’s developmental ability. Other physical signs and symptoms of sexual abuse can include:
- – Blood in the vaginal area
- – Signs of STDs, like Chlamydia, HIV, or gonorrhea
- – Having blood or tears in the anus
- – Marks and/or bruises in the vaginal area or the rectal area
- – Sores or warts on the penis or vaginal area
- – Painful urination
- – Problems with bowel movements/pain
Children may exhibit sexual abuse signs and symptoms and other matters as well. These include engaging in sexual behavior or having knowledge of a sexual activity that is not appropriate for their age. Children who are pregnant, have sexually transmitted diseases, or have unexplained genital or anal pain, bleeding, or injuries. Children may also engage in sexual behaviors with other children thinking that it is appropriate.
Some children may even say that he or she was abused in a sexual manner. These statements should not be taken lightly. Most children are unaware of what sexual activity is, let alone have full details of what takes place. If a child says that they are abused in a sexual manner, it is important that you act quickly to seek medical treatment or an evaluation to determine the extent of the abuse.
Life-Long Trauma that Victims Endure
Victims of sexual abuse are found to experience severe mental and emotional consequences. Studies conducted by professors at the University of New Hampshire found that four trauma-causing factors play a role in the lives of survivors. These include:
Traumatic sexualization: When young children are exposed to inappropriate sexual behaviors and materials while too young, it can have an overwhelming impact on how they react in feel about sex as they grow up. This type of experience will vary from child to child. There are instances where children were rewarded for the abuse with gifts, attention, and other rewards. In these cases, children will correlate sexual acts with rewards. They may use sex as an adult to manipulate situations to get what they want from others. In other cases, particularly those where children were forced to experience some type of violent sexual abuse, they may grow up and associate sexual contact with helplessness and fear.
Betrayal: Children who are abused by parents, family members, and other loved ones will often have difficulties trusting others as they grow up. Children may grow up feeling betrayed, which may skew their ability to form trusting relationships with other people in the future.
Powerlessness: Given the uneven power balance present between children and adults, children are more likely to feel powerless at the hands of their abusers. When coercion and other forms of manipulation are used, children may feel even more helpless and powerless. They may become fearful of their abuser and feel trapped in a situation that they are unable to escape. This feeling of powerlessness can continue to increase indefinitely. The feelings are only made worse in situations where parents and other authority figures refuse to believe and support victims.
Stigmatization: When children are made to believe that they did something shameful or immoral, or when people react negatively to hearing about their experience, the child may be overwhelmed by guilt and blame. As adults, victims of sexual abuse during their childhood may look back and act like they had done something wrong or that they had directly invited the abuser. They may feel that they should have been able to fight back or stop what was happening. Unfortunately, some victims even harbor feelings of guilt about their body’s ability to respond to the abuse.
Children who are sexually abused often go on to have very difficult problems maintaining healthy relationships with others. After being sexually abused as a child, every sexual encounter or relationship can lead to an emotional reaction. Some children experience anxiety, feel triggered, have flashbacks, or experience posttraumatic stress disorder. It can be quite difficult for adult survivors to find joy in their consensual sexual experiences.
Children who are sexually abused can benefit greatly by working with a psychologist or therapist. This type of mental health resource can be extremely beneficial when it comes to learning how to cope with it the past trauma and move forward. Working with a sexual abuse attorney in Massachusetts can help to ensure you are able to recover the financial compensation necessary to cover the costs of these and other treatments that you need as a result of your abuse.
Taking Legal Action Against Your Abuser
In Massachusetts, there are two types of legal action that you can take against the person who caused your abuse. These include either a civil case or a criminal case against the offender.
Criminal sexual abuse or assault cases often require evidence that proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. On the other hand, victims who prior to filing civil cases may be entitled to compensation even if there is no absolute certainty that the accused party did commit the crimes. In civil court, it is only necessary to rely on a preponderance of the evidence. This means that the evidence presented indicates that there was at least a 50% chance that the claims made against the defendant are true.
In civil court, victims are able to recover compensation to help alleviate the damages that they face as a result of being abused. These legal claims can help victims secure the compensation that they need for medical expenses, pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and various other financial burdens that they have been forced to endure as a result of being sexually abused.
Working with a Massachusetts sexual abuse attorney can make a significant difference when it comes to your chances of getting justice. A skilled and fearless legal team by your side will help to ensure that no stone is left unturned and that you are able to get justice and hold the person responsible to account.
Let The Law Office of Carmen L Durso Help You
For the past three decades, attorney Carmen Durso has worked diligently to help victims who have suffered sexual abuse as adults or children. Over the years, he has represented hundreds of survivors of sexual abuse. He has brought up lawsuits against religious organizations, employers, caregivers, schools, doctors, youth organizations, and various other parties.
Attorney Durso at the Law Office of Carmen L Durso is fully committed to helping victims get justice. On behalf of our clients, we also engage in advocating by ensuring that legislation that is designed to protect victims is fully supported. We want to provide every victim the best possible chance to obtain redress against those who caused them harm and others who made it possible for the abuse to occur. Our lawyers work with and support various groups, organizations, and lawyers who all have the same goal when it comes to protecting victims of abuse in Boston and across the entire state.
If you are a victim of sexual abuse, our lawyers are available to meet with you at your earliest convenience. Please feel free to contact our Massachusetts sexual abuse law firm today at 617-728-9123 to schedule a free case evaluation to get started on your case.
Notes: This post was created through the use of secondary sources. The details surrounding this incident have not been independently verified. If any information is incorrect, contact the Law Office of Carmen L. Durso as soon as possible so that we can correct the post to include the most accurate information available.
Disclaimers: We have provided compassionate legal representation to children, adult survivors of child sex abuse, and people who have been assaulted by an adult for more than 50 years in Massachusetts. None of the information in this post is intended to be medical or legal advice. This is post is not a solicitation for business.