When an individual is accused of molesting a child, he will normally face criminal charges. These charges are brought against the accused by the government.

However, a criminal case is not the only available avenue for child sex abuse survivors and their families seeking justice. A civil lawsuit against the perpetrator of child sexual abuse is an additional legal remedy.

A civil claim awards victims of sexual abuse financial compensation which serves two purposes: first, victims have the financial means to start healing from the emotional, physical, and psychological injuries that, if left untreated, can haunt survivors of child sexual abuse well into adulthood. Compensation not only covers emotional distress, but hospital bills and any expenses associated with therapy.

Second, awarding financial damages to sexual abuse victims is a way to hold an organization or institution accountable, if their actions or negligence enabled predators access to victims.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the difference between these two types of cases:

Infographic Criminal versus Civil law