What Constitutes Sexual Abuse and What Are Your Rights?

Sexual abuse is a heinous crime that inflicts severe emotional, physical, and psychological trauma on its victims. In Washington State, there are comprehensive laws in place to define and address sexual abuse, while also ensuring that victims are empowered and protected.

Defining Sexual Abuse in Washington State

Under Washington law, sexual abuse encompasses a wide range of non-consensual sexual acts and behaviors. The state defines several offenses that constitute sexual abuse, including but not limited to:

  • Rape: Engaging in sexual intercourse without the victim's consent, whether through physical force, threats, or incapacity to consent due to intoxication, mental impairment, or other factors.
  • Sexual Assault: Involving unwanted sexual touching or penetration without the victim's consent, which may include acts such as groping, fondling, or forced oral or anal sex.
  • Child Sexual Abuse: Any sexual act or exploitation involving a minor, including but not limited to sexual contact, molestation, child pornography, or engaging in sexual conduct with a minor.
  • Statutory Rape: Engaging in sexual intercourse or other sexual acts with a minor who is below the age of consent, even if the minor consents to the activity.

Victim's Rights in Washington State

Washington recognizes the importance of providing support, protection, and legal rights to victims of sexual abuse. Here are some key rights afforded to victims within the state:

  • Right To Be Informed: Victims have the right to be informed about their rights, the legal process, available resources, and services that can assist them in their recovery.
  • Right to Privacy and Confidentiality: Victims have the right to privacy and confidentiality during their involvement in legal proceedings, as well as protection from unnecessary public disclosure of their identities.
  • Right To Be Heard: Victims have the right to be heard during court proceedings, including providing testimony, victim impact statements, and expressing their concerns or preferences related to the case.
  • Right to Protection: Victims have the right to protection from intimidation, harassment, or retaliation by the accused or their associates. They may request protection orders or other necessary measures to ensure their safety.
  • Right to Compensation: Victims may be eligible for financial assistance and compensation through various state programs, such as the Crime Victims Compensation Program, which provides support for medical expenses, counseling, and other related costs.
  • Right to Participation: Victims have the right to participate in the criminal justice process, including being notified about court hearings, plea negotiations, and case dispositions. They may also consult with prosecutors and provide input on case resolution.
  • Right to Support: Victims have the right to access support services, such as counseling, advocacy, and medical assistance. These services can help victims cope with trauma, navigate the legal system, and rebuild their lives.


Washington State has enacted comprehensive laws and protections to address sexual abuse and ensure the rights and well-being of victims. By defining sexual abuse offenses, promoting victim-centered approaches, and providing access to support services and compensation, the state strives to hold perpetrators accountable and facilitate the healing and recovery of survivors. It is crucial to raise awareness about these legal definitions and victims' rights to empower individuals and communities to combat sexual abuse, promote a culture of consent, and support survivors on their journey toward justice and healing.

If you are a victim of sexual abuse, you have rights under WA law. Contact Hester Law Group for the fierce defense you deserve.