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Can I still file for a childhood sexual abuse case after a year?

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2024 | Childhood Sex Abuse |

Coming forward about sexual abuse can be a daunting decision. Many survivors wrestle with shame, fear and uncertainty about the legal process alone. One common question people ask when they are thinking about coming forward is this: Is there a deadline to file a case?

What is the time limitation for filing a case in New Jersey? 

Before the statute of limitation reform in 2019, survivors of child sexual abuse (minors) had to file a lawsuit before the age of 20 or within two years after the discovery of damages. Meanwhile, adult survivors of sexual assault had to file within two years.  

However, under New Jersey’s reformed law, childhood sexual abuse survivors have 37 years after turning 18 to take legal action against their abusers. The law also gives survivors seven years after realizing that their abuser’s actions caused them harm to file a suit.

Why are sexual abuse survivors hesitant to share their experiences? 

Many survivors prefer to stay silent instead of speaking up about the trauma of their sexual assault and abuse. Because of the stigma that comes with sexual abuse cases, survivors often hesitate to speak about what happened. They often have many worries about coming forward, like facing hostility from their loved ones and the fear of retaliation from the perpetrators. 

Helping survivors who speak up  

While speaking up does not necessarily guarantee justice, it can be incredibly important and empowering to survivors. That is why it is crucial to create a supportive environment where survivors feel safe to come forward whenever they are ready.  

Sexual abuse is a highly delicate topic, and it should be dealt with utmost care and consideration. If you know someone struggling to share their experience, slowly reach out to them and let them know you are willing to wait and listen whenever possible. It may be their first step towards healing and self-rediscovery.