Sexual abuse, when committed during childhood, can have a far-reaching effect. Therefore, the court usually considers this when assigning a time limitation on filing a childhood sexual abuse case.
How Does Tolling Affect the Filing of Your Case with a Sexual Abuse Lawyer?
The National Center for Victims of Crime states that almost every state in the U.S. has implemented tolling. This means the statute of limitations (SOL), or the window of time a claimant can file a lawsuit, has been extended. If the abuse happened while the plaintiff was a minor, the SOL is suspended until after the litigant reaches the age of majority.
Therefore, the discovery rule sets a precedent for child abuse cases that involve civil actions. Because the victim may not discover the abuse and the injuries it caused until much later, the SOL, in this case, begins when the discovery is made.
That is why you need to speak to a sexual abuse lawyer as soon as possible if you experienced sexual abuse when you were a child or teen. Discovery may not happen until the victim becomes an adult because they suppress the memory. Therefore, this type of revelation may not develop until the victim goes through therapy.
For example, recent legislation in California gives sexual assault victims who experienced the crime in childhood a chance to file a claim until their 40th birthday. Before October 2019, child sexual assault litigants could only file a lawsuit until their 26th birthday. If they found out their psychological pain resulted from childhood sexual abuse, the court gave them an extra three years from that discovery to file a lawsuit.
However, state law AB 218, which came into effect in January 2020, gives victims of childhood sexual assault another 14 years to file a claim. For anyone who discovers the abuse later in life, the extension for the statute of limitations is five years. Moreover, California courts can triple the compensatory damages if the assault was covered up.
The Psychological Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Each survivor of a sexual assault reacts differently. There is no set pattern in this regard. Some people express their emotions while others keep their feelings inside. Although some survivors discuss the assault soon after it occurs, others may not say anything for many years.
Physical illnesses can also emerge because of the assault. Some victims cope by misusing drugs or alcohol, which leads to treatment and realizing why they have developed the problem. Some victims may also feel suicidal at times.
When victims express their feelings through journaling or therapy, they can find more purpose and meaning in life. Filing suit against the perpetrator also allows them to close a terrible chapter so they can move forward with hope and confidence.
Take a Proactive Step to Ensure the Safety of Others
While reliving an experience of childhood abuse can be upsetting, it also can set a victim free from further pain and suffering. Take a step in the right direction. Review your case with a sexual abuse attorney today.