April is national Sexual Assault Awareness Month. By designating the month, leaders are hoping to enhance awareness of the issue of sexual assault and help individuals and groups learn new methods for combating the problem. Victims of sexual violence may feel alienated and fail to assert their rights after an attack. While criminal law provides the means to penalize the perpetrators of sexual assaults, civil law, including premises liability claims, provides a means by which victims can obtain compensation for the harm done to them. This can help pay for medical expenses, lost wages and other losses related to the assault. For property owners, this is also an inducement to take responsibility for risks posed by your property.
Certain areas are more likely to be the site of a sexual assault. Crime is less likely to occur in well-lit areas. Security cameras can deter an attacker from operating in a particular area. Property owners who maintain premises that are dark, secluded and not insecure may be inviting robberies and sexual assaults.
Apartment buildings, bars, restaurants and other places where many people congregate owe a duty to visitors to provide adequate security. Any property owner with reason to know that crime might occur is well-advised to take steps to minimize that risk. Dark stairwells, hallways and alleys should be lit. Some establishments may need to hire security or install cameras to protect patrons. Stopping a sexual assault before it occurs is the best possible solution. By taking a few simple safety precautions, property owners can provide a safe environment for everyone.
Source: Lake County News, “April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month; community asked to help stop the violence,” by Sheri Young, 1 April 2013