Many Victims Do Not Realize the Effects of Abuse until It Is Too Late:
Laws Vary From State to State, but new laws in several states are giving victims more time to come forward and file legal actions.
Across the country, there’s a patchwork of varying state statutes of limitation for sexual abuse survivors wishing to seek justice through the courts. It’s essential to know the law. In many states, including Washington, Oregon, New York, no matter how old a claim may be, survivors may be able to pursue a legal action. The most important thing is to come forward and seek an attorney who can evaluate a legal avenue for your claims.
The very nature of sexual abuse is predicated on secrecy and shame and manipulation. It often takes years, and even decades, for victims to grasp what has happened, and even more time to pursue legal recourse. Washington State law generally allows adult sexual abuse survivors to bring a civil action once they realize the consequences of their abuse.
Victims 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, New York 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. But laws are changing so you should consult with an attorney to determine if you have a viable path to justice.
Yet, sadly, many states’ criminal statutes have too-short statutes of limitation 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.
Legal Actions Can Expose Perpetrators and Prevent Future Abuse
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.
In many states throughout the nation 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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