Suffering from sexual abuse as a child is devastating on multiple levels. Victims often feel shame and guilt about what happened—which can make them fearful about coming forward.
However, if you were sexually abused as a child—no matter how old you are now—you still have the right to seek justice. The law and the current social climate support abuse victims now more than ever. Here are five reasons to ease your concerns about coming forward:
- Anonymity: Fear and embarrassment shouldn’t prevent you from seeking justice. You can file a lawsuit against a sexual abuse perpetrator anonymously—and let your lawyer serve as your public face.
- Flexible deadline: California law gives victims of child molestation a broad timeframe within which to file charges. Under one part of the statute of limitations, victims have 10 years from their 18th birthday to file charges. However, another part of the statute permits victims to file charges even after this deadline has expired. If a victim was abused 20 years ago, for instance, and reports the incident to the police this year, they have one year from the date of the police report to file charges against the perpetrator—providing the case involves “substantial sexual conduct” and is supported by “independent evidence.”
- Compassion: The #metoo movement over the past year has reinforced the obligation of the public to believe abuse victims who are brave enough to come forward—no matter what their age. In addition, by turning to a sexual abuse attorney who is also a psychologist, victims receive a deeper level of empathy and understanding.
- Prevention: Sexual molestation can damage lives. When a brave victim comes forward and sends the perpetrator to prison, they help to prevent future victims from the same suffering.
- Healing: The process of healing, rebuilding and trusting again following sexual abuse is long and complex. However, when a sexual abuser is forced to face criminal consequences for their actions, it represents one step in helping a victim to heal.
The prospect of confronting your perpetrator may seem like an insurmountable challenge. However, the onus isn’t on you alone—you can let your attorney take the hit for you. Consulting with a sexual abuse attorney about your case is a good first step to understanding the process.