If you are a survivor of child sexual assault, your opportunity to bring a civil lawsuit may be coming to a close.
In the past, the statute of limitations for a survivor of child sexual abuse to bring a civil lawsuit in California was within three years of discovery of the sexual abuse, or before the plaintiff’s 26th birthday, whichever was later. In 2019, California passed a law extending the statute of limitations to the plaintiff’s 40th birthday, and providing survivors a 3-year “lookback window.” This means that any adult survivor of child sexual assault in California may bring a civil lawsuit regardless of their age.
The lookback window has enabled countless adult survivors the opportunity to achieve justice in civil court. Unfortunately, the window is closing on December 31, 2022. After December 31, 2022, if you are a survivor of child sexual abuse and over the age of 40 years old, you can no longer bring a civil lawsuit against your perpetrator(s).
If you are a survivor of child sexual assault, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible, even if you’re not sure you want to pursue legal action. Your attorney can help you understand your rights and will provide valuable guidance.
At the Pride Law Firm, we believe you – and it’s not your fault. Regardless of whether your attacker is ever charged with a crime, we can help you find justice through the civil court system. Whether it’s the perpetrator, the institution that employed them, or any other entity that bears responsibility, our team will fight to secure you the justice you deserve.
In a confidential conversation, we can answer any questions you have and help you understand your options for moving forward. You may reach our office at (619) 516-8166 or contact us using the form on our website for a free consultation.
What Is the Purpose of a Statute of Limitations?
A “statute of limitations” refers to the deadline for when you are allowed to file a civil case for sexual assault, harassment, or other forms of personal injury. These deadlines exist to ensure that cases are brought to court while evidence and witness recollections are still fresh, but they can also feel far too short for survivors of childhood sexual assault or abuse.
Many who were harmed as children did not recognize it as abuse at the time, or did not feel free to disclose what happened for years after. In fact, the average age of a survivor coming forward about childhood sexual abuse is age 52.
Fortunately, many states recognize that childhood survivors deserve special protections. Expanding the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse cases serves to help survivors and their families heal. It also benefits the community’s interest in holding predators and enabling institutions accountable, including schools and churches.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse?
The lookback window in California is essential because the consequences of sexual abuse, especially on children, have a long-lasting impact.
- Depression, anxiety, and PTSD: Post-traumatic stress disorder can affect any survivor of trauma, including those who have experienced terrorism, war zones, and catastrophic accidents.
- Substance abuse: Once traumatized, survivors may use substances like drugs or alcohol to self-medicate or numb their pain.
- Lack of confidence and self-worth: Internalized negative emotions like guilt and shame can lead survivors to withdraw from positive opportunities like going out for sports in school or seeking a promotion at work.
- Eating disorders: Disordered eating can include conditions like anorexia, bulimia, or binge-eating disorder.
- Suicide: Studies show that adolescent survivors of childhood sexual abuse have a suicide rate of 10-13 times higher than the general population.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling (800) 273-8255. For legal options to speak your truth and seek justice, contact the law firm of Jessica Pride for compassionate, confidential help.
Filing a lawsuit can help survivors acknowledge and process previous sexual abuse from childhood. Seeking and securing justice is a form of self-care that our attorneys are honored to help you fulfill.
Contact Survivor Lawyers
California’s “lookback window” grants a one-time opportunity to childhood sexual abuse survivors of any age to file a civil lawsuit before 2023. It’s important to file your case before the deadline expires to make sure your voice is heard.
We at the Pride Law Firm have dedicated our careers to helping sexual assault survivors find closure and compensation for their injuries. A settlement or verdict can literally fund life-saving therapeutic care, and improve the prospects of individuals who are ready to put away the past and look forward to their futures.
If you need a proven attorney to stand by your side as you seek cleansing justice, contact Jessica Pride’s team at (619) 516-8166. Located in San Diego, we are ready to help California survivors of childhood sexual trauma secure justice.