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Information for PolicyMakers

Many Factors Contribute to the Delay in Bringing Sexual Abuse Cases

The effects of abuse may not be felt for years after the actual abuse. Many survivors are intimidated and unwilling to confront their abusers. In many institutions and organizations, there is a lack of transparency and oversight, which continues to foster the culture of abuse. This is only one of many reasons that sexual abuse cases go unheard and are latent throughout a victim’s childhood and even adulthood.

Many Victims Do Not Realize the Effects of Abuse Until It Is Too Late – More and more States are passing laws Favorable to Victims in Civil Actions

For example, Oregon, New York and Washington State law generally allow adult sexual abuse survivors to bring a civil action once they realize the consequences of their abuse. They may have flashbacks, alcohol and drug addiction problems, or marital and sexual dysfunction. All of these instances can be traced to sexual abuse that an individual has endured as a child. In states like Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Delaware and California an individual is able to bring a civil action when the actual injury is discovered or when the victim realizes that his or her injuries were the result of the childhood sexual abuse. In other states, victims are often legally barred from bringing suit by antiquated statutes of limitations.

Yet, sadly, Washington State’s criminal statutes have too-short statute of limitations the effect of which is to allow sexual abusers to escape criminal prosecution and prison. Unsurprisingly, crime statistics show that states with “predator-friendly” laws end up with more sexual predators.

Without an appropriate legal framework, victims will never be afforded the opportunity to confront their abusers. Lawmakers in most other states are not providing the appropriate tools to confront abusers or to prevent future abuse.

Legal Actions Can Expose Perpetrators and Prevent Future Abuse
The current legal system limits the rights of the abusers and arbitrarily shuts the courtroom door for thousands of victims. Any law enforcement agency would concede that if there were a known list of terrorists, we would do everything in our power to expose those assailants. With the knowledge of abusers, the victims are empowered to bring actions and reveal abusers to prevent future abuse. These victims are in the BEST POSITION to inform law enforcement agencies of who the perpetrators are. They will still be required to prove their case, but without a change in policy, they will not even be given an opportunity to confront their abusers in court or make efforts to prevent future child sexual abuse.

In many states throughout the nation, recently including Idaho, delayed discovery provisions allow victims to bring claims once the symptoms and effects of the abuse are known. For many victims, the effects of the abuse are not fully realized until they are married or have children of their own. We wish to protect the rights of survivors and future victims by providing a legal power to bring claims against the abusers once those effects are realized.

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