Standing up and publicly identifying your sexual abuser and the organization that protected them takes tremendous courage. For many victims, the trauma of the abuse still lives with them. They feel stuck between being reluctant to give up their privacy and wanting to expose their abusers and bring them to justice.
Fortunately, sexual abuse survivors in many states can resolve this dilemma by filing a lawsuit anonymously. Legislatures in states like California and Florida have passed laws giving plaintiffs the right to request anonymity from the court.
Legitimate privacy concern
Normally, the plaintiff in a lawsuit must publicly disclose their identity in their filings. But courts, where allowed, tend to accept the use of a pseudonym, such as Jane Doe or the plaintiff’s initials, when a legitimate privacy concern exists. Given the highly sensitive nature of sexual abuse accusations and the age of many survivors, judges often recognize that the plaintiff’s need for privacy outweighs the public’s right to know. Other reasons a judge might allow anonymous court filings include:
- The plaintiff reasonably fears threats of retaliation.
- The plaintiff must reveal intimate information about themselves.
- The plaintiff is suing a government agency.
Whether the abuse happened months, years or decades ago, when you are ready to sue your abusers, fear of your name appearing in the media or threats against yourself and your family should not hold you back. An attorney who routinely represents sexual abuse survivors can help you maintain your privacy and manage the emotions that your lawsuit can bring up throughout the process.