There has been a lot of noise made about statutes of limitations in the US lately. If you’re not familiar with the term, they refer to the amount of time that can pass before either a criminal charge, or a civil claim can be made in court. Because child abuse, by it’s nature, is something that often is not acknowledged until later in life, there have been many calls to increase the number of years before a claim can be made, or eliminate it entirely for child abuse cases.
Naturally, organizations where abuse has been discovered, and wide-spread, are lobbying against this change, because they are afraid of how much money they stand to lose in lawsuits going back over decades of cases. The truth is, they stand to spend a lot of money settling lawsuits, so it’s more of an economic opposition than it is trying to prevent criminal charges. (Many of the abusers are long gone by now in those cases, though certainly not all.)
In a nutshell, that is the argument that you’ve probably seen news stories and opinion pieces about recently.
For the record, I have no problem with adjusting the statute of limitations for child abuse offenses. I’m for it.
But, there have been some things said by those fighting for that change that give me pause. I’ve seen far too many references in slogans, signs, and articles referring to the idea that healing requires the justice that the legal system could provide if not for the limitations. I fear we are setting up a lot of survivors for disappointment with that thinking.
Regardless of what happens in the legal system, healing is possible. The two are not tied at the hip. The justice system is about a lot of other people. It’s about what evidence exists, it’s about the decisions of judges, prosecutors, and juries. It’s about whether the abuser is even alive to have some sort of decision made against them.
Healing is about the survivor, and only the survivor. That journey is yours alone, and is not dependent on what other people or systems do. It is only about the work you put in, and whatever resources you may choose to help with that journey.
So, if you choose to enter the legal system in one way or another, I wish you nothing but the best, and I hope we can come up with a legal system that provides some justice for everyone involved. We always hope that system can be used to find the truth and carry out a just resolution. But it’s imperfect, and that may not happen in every case.
i just hope we can let every survivor know that regardless of what happens there, healing is possible. No matter what else you may do, focus on that and know that even if you don’t get justice in a legal sense, there is no one who can get in the way of you healing.
And healing is the best thing any survivor can do.