Please note: The legal options and laws outlined below provide general information only. VRLC attorneys provide legal assistance to individual sexual assault survivors with financial stability legal needs related to the assault in Massachusetts and Oregon.
For individual legal advice in Massachusetts, please call us at (617) 399-6720 x19.
For individual legal advice in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties, Oregon please call us at (503) 274-5477 x6.
Sexual assault can result in unexpected expenses as well the loss of income for many survivors. If you have been sexually assaulted, you may feel overwhelmed by financial worries. There are potential options to seek compensation for assault-related costs. Not everyone will secure compensation, but it is important to know your rights.
State Victim Compensation Programs
To be eligible for Victim Compensation, you must first comply with several rules:
- Complete and submit a state victim compensation application (available here for Massachusetts and Oregon).
- Show your cooperation with law enforcement or court entity. This usually means you will need a police report documenting the sexual assault. If you have not filed a police report, you can speak with the Victim Compensation staff in your state. (Massachusetts: 617-727-2200 x 2160 / Oregon 503-378-5348).
- You must apply within 3 years of the sexual assault. There are some limited exceptions. If you have reported to police, it is recommended that you complete the paperwork now, even if you do not have any current crime-related expenses. If you are found eligible, there is no time limit for you to use the money.
For a complete listing of Victim Compensation program’s in other states, please refer to the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards.
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – formally Food Stamps)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Criminal and Civil Resitution
- You can only receive restitution (repayment of money spent) in certain limited circumstances.
- You can apply for restitution as part of a civil protective order. This is “civil” restitution. For example, if you have moved because of the assault or have paid money for more security at your house, you can ask the court to order the perpetrator to pay restitution for those costs.
Please note: such civil restitution orders can only be applied for if you are already asking the court to issue a restraining order because you fear for your ongoing safety. You can request the restraining order and the restitution, but you cannot ask for restitution alone.
- If you are involved in a criminal case, and the defendant is found guilty, the District Attorney’s Office can ask the court to order the defendant to pay restitution as a part of the punishment after conviction. This is called “criminal” restitution. The prosecutor and Victim Witness Advocate assigned to your case can provide additional information.
Civil Law Suits Against a Perpetrator or Third Party
Please Note: The VRLC is prohibited from filing civil lawsuits for monetary damages. If you are a victim interested in a civil lawsuit, please contact your local bar association.
If you have been sexually assaulted, you may be able to obtain financial compensation by suing the perpetrator. This right is separate from the criminal justice system. You may be able to file a direct lawsuit against the perpetrator for assault and battery, rape, intentional infliction of emotional distress and other intentional torts. You may also have rights against “third parties” who are responsible in some way for what happened to you. Certain third parties may owe duties to the victim and may be partially responsible for failing to prevent or deter the crime. For example, some third parties that may be partially responsible include bars and other places that serve alcohol, convenience stores, parking garages, universities and colleges, landlords, bus stations, hospitals, and hotels.