OTLA Trial Lawyer Winter 2022

22 Trial Lawyer • Winter 2022 By Shannon Conley OTLA Guardian By Tim Nay OTLA Guardian As advocates , we obser ve and document our clients’ injuries in microscopic detail. We empathize with their trauma and suffering. We may ask ourselves what would it be like to walk in our clients’ shoes. When Kayla came to our office at the young age of twelve, she had been subjected to repeated sexual abuse by her foster parent while in the custody of the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS). Her team of attorneys, physicians, life care planners, rehab providers, expert witnesses, actuaries, mediators and the court were all working together to Tim Nay Shannon Conley quantify her physical injuries as money damages. Such methodologies are not easily or effectively applied to childhood sexual abuse. Why? Because the trauma of childhood sexual abuse frequently results in undetected lifelong injuries and early death. In a study of 17,000 adults, the CDC and Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experience Study found that “when a child is sexually abused, these experiences weren’t just tied to issues like anxiety, depression, and PTSD later in life. They also correlated with health problems as wide-ranging as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and even fractures and burns, not to mention negative effects on income and education attainment.” (See graphic, p. 27) Vincent J. Felitti, MD, FACP, et al., “The Relationship of Childhood Abuse andHousehold Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults” (1998), https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/ S0749-3797(98)00017-8/fulltext. Neural characteristics of a sexually abused child’s brain are dramatically changed by trauma, altering its function, cognition and emotion. The child may also face the trauma of shame and society’s notion that a sexual assault victim shares blame. Konopka, Lukas M, “The Impact of Child Abuse: Neuroscience Perspective” (Croat Med J 2015 Jun; 56(3): 315-316), https://www.ncbi.nlm. nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4500976/; “Adult Manifestations of Childhood Sexual Abuse,” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Women’s Health Care Physicians, Committee onHealth Care for UnderservedWomen, Number 498 (2011, reaffirmed 2017). Child sexual abuse also frequently leads to attachment disorders that can negatively affect a child’s ability to form positive peer, social and romantic relationships later in life. Ellis EE, et al., “Reactive Attachment Disorder,” StatPearls, Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls (2021), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ books/NBK537155/; “Child Welfare Information Gateway, Long Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect,” Children’s Bureau (April 2019), https:// www.childwelfare.gov/pubpdfs/long_term_ consequences.pdf. In every settlement, the trauma extends to the family of the sexually abused Childhood Trauma in Sex Abuse Settlements