Sexual Abuse: What Are Its Long-Term Effects?
New Mexico sexual assault cases are some of the most serious in the criminal justice system. Depending on the nature of the offense, a conviction for a sex offense can result in very long prison sentences, up to life in prison. Not only that, but anyone convicted of a sex crime must register as a sex offender. The amount of time you must register will again depend on the specific crime you were convicted of.
One of the reasons why New Mexico sex crimes are prosecuted so aggressively and punished so harshly is because the victims of sexual abuse and assault often suffer serious lifelong consequences. Undoubtedly, sex abuse has a lifelong impact on victims. However, these cases are also among the most likely to result in a wrongful conviction, as allegations of sexual abuse are not always based on reality.
At the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, we represent clients charged with serious sex offenses. While we understand the long-term effects of sexual abuse, we also recognize that not every case is as the prosecution presents it. Too often, allegations of sexual abuse are exaggerated or even manufactured. However, due to the fact that there are seldom witnesses to a sexual assault, these cases often proceed on thin evidence. And while the prosecution must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, with so much on the line, you can’t afford to take any chances.
What Constitutes Sex Abuse in New Mexico?
Sex abuse is a type of violent crime involving a sexual element. While some sex offenses involve penetration, that isn’t always the case. Under New Mexico law, sex abuse doesn’t have a specific definition. However, there are certain offenses that are generally seen as sex crimes. Generally, these include offenses that involve touching certain parts of the body or assaulting someone with the intent of making sexual contact. A few of the most common New Mexico sex offenses include:
- Child molestation;
- Criminal sexual contact of an adult or minor;
- Rape (criminal sexual penetration or CSP);
- Attempted CSP;
- Sexual assault;
- Sexual exploitation by a therapist;
- Sexual harassment; and
- Spousal rape.
As you can see from this list, there is a significant overlap between sex crimes and domestic violence offenses. Indeed, most sex offenses are committed against someone the defendant knows. For example, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), more than 80 percent of rape victims know their attacker.
The Effects of Sexual Assault
Sexual abuse impacts those who suffer from it in different ways. No two people experience abuse the same way. However, experts generally break down the effects of sexual abuse into three categories.
While most wounds heal with time, sexual abuse can result in long-term physical effects. Some of the most common physical effects of sexual assault include:
- Broken bones;
- Disfigurement; and
Often, when sexual abuse is reported, police officers will take pictures of the victim. These pictures may be used by the prosecution when bringing sexual assault charges.
Suffering from sexual abuse can result in profound emotional damage to the victim. Again, everyone internalizes abuse differently, and some who experience sexual assault often have a hard time trusting people and may withdraw from their loved ones. Others may become angry or adopt a reckless lifestyle in the wake of the trauma they experienced. Of all the long-term emotional effects of sexual abuse, the following are the most common:
- Suicidal thoughts;
- Guilt; and
These conditions may improve over time with counseling. However, many sex abuse victims carry around the trauma of what happened to them for the rest of their lives.
Those who suffer sexual abuse often experience debilitating psychological damage that can last for the rest of their life. While everyone manifests the symptoms of sexual abuse differently, some of the common psychological effects of sexual abuse include:
- Sleep disorders;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
- Eating disorders;
- Anxiety disorders;
- Panic attacks; and
- Substance abuse issues.
As with the emotional effects of abuse, the psychological injuries a sex abuse victim experiences can improve with counseling. However, again, most people who experience sexual assault must deal with a lifetime of psychological issues.
Defending Against New Mexico Sex Crimes
Given the severe long-term consequences of sex abuse, on one hand, it is understandable that prosecutors take allegations of sexual assault seriously. However, too often, prosecutors put reason to the side and blindly believe what the alleged victim tells them. The reality is that not every allegation of sexual abuse is based on truth.
Defending against a New Mexico sex crime requires a comprehensive approach. Every case is different, and it takes a skilled criminal charges defense lawyer to come up with the best strategy. While many of these cases are based on exaggerations or outright fabrications, it is a mistake to assume the jury will see that. With so much at stake, it is imperative that anyone facing a sexual offense reach out to a dedicated criminal charges defense attorney to discuss their case. A legal practitioner will conduct a thorough investigation into the case to uncover any evidence that contradicts the alleged victim’s story. Your lawyer can also effectively cross-examine the alleged victim and any other witnesses the prosecution presents, exposing inconsistencies in their stories.
Contact the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices for Immediate Assistance
If you were recently arrested and charged with a New Mexico sex offense, you need an attorney who will take your case as seriously as you do. These crimes can carry incredibly serious consequences and almost always involve jail time. At the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, we take a client-centered approach to every case we handle. This means we will listen to what you tell us and work with you to create a compelling defense to whatever crimes you face. Our lawyers have decades of experience defending our client’s rights at every stage of the process. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable New Mexico criminal charges defense attorneys, give us a call or connect with us through our online form.