Statutes of limitation are legal time limits for how long a person can get to court to seek criminal or civil justice. Statutes of limitation (SOL) can serve good ends- for example, when there is a property or contract dispute, it’s typically in every person’s best interest to get to court as soon as possible to sort out who owns what.

But, when it comes to sex crimes, and especially sex crimes against children, an SOL serves to protect abusers, silence victims and perpetuate a vicious cycle of abuse. This is because these time limits run out before victims have the time they need to get to court. It often takes a person sexually abused as a child decades before they have healed enough to overcome the barriers to get to court. For details on these barriers, see my post called Survivor Barriers to Telling About Child Sexual Abuse.

What can be done? Reforming the laws, state-by-state, and at the Federal level. Check out Marci Hamilton’s tireless work to eliminate the time limits survivors have for getting to court