What Is Verbal Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse is a highly faceted crime with many definitions. Many people don’t realize that sexual abuse does not have to involve physical touching. There are also nonphysical forms of abuse, including verbal abuse and harassment. If you were the target of verbal sexual abuse or a witness to this crime in California, contact a Los Angeles sexual abuse attorney from Manly, Stewart & Finaldi for a free and confidential legal consultation. You may be entitled to financial compensation.

The Definition of Verbal Sexual Abuse (and Examples)

Verbal sexual abuse describes oral or written words of a sexual nature against a victim, often for the purpose of making a sexual advance or harassing the victim. Some examples of verbal sexual abuse are subtle, such as passive-aggressive remarks about an individual’s appearance or sexual activities. Others are more blatant, such as an abuser using sexually aggressive or threatening language to intimidate someone.

Some examples of verbal sexual abuse include:

  • Sexual jokes, remarks or innuendos
  • Lewd or suggestive comments
  • Asking or demanding that someone goes out with you
  • Embarrassing someone in front of other people
  • Commenting on someone’s appearance in a sexual manner
  • Abusive, offensive, demeaning or discriminatory language
  • Sexually inappropriate nicknames or name-calling
  • Sexual noises, such as lip-smacking or kissing sounds 
  • Sexually explicit emails
  • Sexting
  • Inappropriate images, memes or GIFs
  • Sexual threats
  • Inappropriate conversations of a sexual nature with children

Verbal sexual abuse can be harmful in many ways for a survivor. It can impact them mentally and emotionally, making a victim feel threatened, uncomfortable or unwelcomed. If verbal sexual abuse happens in the workplace, it can interfere with the victim’s productivity and lead to lost wages and missed employment opportunities. Verbal sexual abuse can also be a precursor to other types of abuse, such as physical sexual abuse.

Can You Sue for Verbal Sexual Abuse?

Yes, it is possible to file a lawsuit for verbal sexual abuse in California. If verbal sexual abuse causes compensable losses, such as lost wages from being unable to work or psychological harm, you may have the right to bring a lawsuit in pursuit of financial compensation against the abuser. If you experienced verbal sexual abuse in the workplace, for example, you may be able to file a claim against your employer for failing to provide a safe environment for you as a worker. This is especially true if you complained about the incident and your employer did nothing to remedy the situation, such as reprimand or fire the perpetrator.

What To Do if You Experience Verbal Sexual Abuse or Harassment

Sexual abuse does not have to involve physical contact to be a serious and harmful crime. You have legal rights and options after any type of sexual abuse in California, including verbal or written sexual abuse. Take the following steps to process the trauma that you may have from this crime, as well as to seek justice against the offender: 

  1. Tell someone. Report the verbal abuse to someone, such as your employer, the human resources department, a trusted friend or family member, a sexual abuse hotline, or the police.
  2. Take care of yourself. Get the help that you need for trauma connected to verbal abuse by seeing a therapist or talking to someone to cope with your feelings in a healthy way. 
  3. Collect evidence. Record a detailed description of the incident. Write down the name of the abuser, the names of any eyewitnesses, and the time, date and location of the abuse.
  4. Contact an attorney. Get an overview of your legal rights by requesting a free consultation with a lawyer in your city.

If you or a loved one has experienced verbal sexual abuse in California, you may be able to bring a civil case against the abuser in pursuit of financial compensation for your related losses. While we know that coming forward with this type of case can be difficult, bringing an abuser to justice is extremely rewarding. It could also help prevent further cases of abuse in the future. Contact Manly, Stewart & Finaldi at (855) 824-1722 for more information.