The effects of child sexual abuse last a lifetime – So why don’t victim’s rights?
The laws regarding the current statute of limitations, which give a sex abuse victim a certain amount of time to pursue justice, continue to protect predators and the institutions that enable the predator’s actions. In almost every state in the country, this arbitrary time limit is stopping childhood sex abuse victims from seeking justice and allowing thousands of predators and organizations to escape accountability.
New York state legislators need to hear from their constituents in order to change the law (The New York Child Victims Act) in favor of sex abuse victims. Diocese of Syracuse, New York clergy abuse victim Kevin Braney explains why.
We Need to Change These Laws
While statutes of limitations vary from state to state, in most cases when a victim of childhood sex abuse reaches a certain age, the perpetrator can no longer be charged. The victim is also prohibited from seeking civil remedies.
Statutes of limitations not only encourage predators and institutions to hide their behavior until the time limit expires, they deny survivors the ability to seek justice and heal.
Why Do We Have Statutes of Limitations?
There are some valid reasons for why statutes of limitations exist; Fading memories, testimonies becoming more inaccurate over time, and lost evidence.
However, shouldn’t the potential inaccuracy of information be left to individual cases, instead of all cases no matter what?
These limitations for child molestation make much less sense when applied to victims of childhood sex abuse.
The very nature of childhood sexual abuse centers around manipulation, secrecy, threats and shame. It can take years, or even decades, for victims to truly understand what happened to them.
In many cases, trusted authority figures or family members sexually abuse children, making it even more difficult for the childhood victims to seek justice within the allotted time frame.
How Those Statutes Harm Our Children
What happens to a sexually abused child is at the whim of that child’s parents of caretakers. Our goal is to educate parents on the best methods to act immediately and provide long-term care and recovery for sexually abused children. However, some parents and guardians are still not yet informed or educated.
Parents can deny a child mental health care for their abuse. They can choose to disbelieve that the abuse happened, blame the child, or even perpetuate the abuse, themselves.
While abhorrent, these situations do happen and our current statutes of limitations further inflict damage on those unfortunate victims by disallowing them to seek justice later in life.
In California however, the Governor has vetoed legislation that would have extended the statute of limitations for childhood molestation victims.
You have the ability to write your representatives demanding change. As a community member and parent, it’s our responsibility to see that representatives extend the victim’s right to seek justice.
At Keep Kids Safe, we believe that all children should be kept safe from dangerous sexual predators. We also believe that the elimination of statutes of limitations, extensive education, and active involvement best achieves this.
To learn more about our organization and how you can keep kids safe from sex abuse, call us at 408-915-5400 or 858-926-5800.