Stop Legal Silencing of Sexual Abuse Survivors

Target: Cory Booker, Chair of U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism

Goal: Support easing or elimination of statute of limitations for sexual abuse and related offenses.

The expiration of a California law that removed the statute of limitations for sexual abuse and assault cases recently prompted a flurry of lawsuits across the television, music, and movie industries. Members of the entertainment sector were anxious to tell their stories of alleged abuse before time ran out. And they are representative of millions more everyday citizens and survivors across the nation.

During its beginning stages, the #MeToo movement became a consequential moment for women’s history in particular. Women spoke out about the harassment they had endured at work (upwards of one-third of women by some estimates). And survivors of rape and childhood sexual abuse conveyed how the fear and shame they felt had kept them in silence, sometimes for decades.

The time lapse between abusive acts and reporting of these acts often works against victims, as most states have a limited window (a statute of limitations) for survivors to seek legal justice. In many states, this window is as little as one year from the time of the incident or incidents.  And in states like Alabama, this rigid statute holds even for victims of childhood sexual abuse who may not have the capacity to recognize the abuse.

While a few states have done away with a statute of limitations for sexual assault cases and some states are looking to relax deadlines, the lack of a national standard continues to leave too many survivors with no real means of securing justice. Sign the petition below to call for a federal framework regarding this important and increasingly consequential issue.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator Booker,

The avalanche of stories that emerged from the #MeToo movement have created a greater awareness of the pervasiveness of sexual abuse, harassment, and assault in all walks of life as well as the incredible will and courage it takes for survivors to speak their truth. Unfortunately, current laws are not keeping pace with this awareness. Too many victims are forced into a timetable for their recovery and their road to justice.

While violent crimes like murder have no statute of limitations, sexual abuse survivors are often told they must push through their pain, their shame, and their fear and confront their trauma within a year or two. Otherwise, their abuser walks free, ready to commit the same abuses upon other innocents. Help end this damaging narrative once and for all.

Find inspiration from the handful of states that have said no more and ended the statute of limitations for sexually based offenses—and the states that are currently in the process of amending their own policies—and support a bill that would ensure every survivor in America the same opportunity for healing and true justice.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Alec Perkins


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  • Dakotah Woller
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