Most survivors of childhood sexual abuse don't come forward until decades later — if at all. In Massachusetts, survivors must file a lawsuit within 35 years of abuse, but a bill before the legislature could get rid of that statute of limitations altogether.
State Sen. Joan Lovely, the lawmaker behind that bill who is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, spoke on Greater Boston about why removing the statute of limitations is so crucial.
She said many survivors don't come forward until they're in their 40s or 50s. "We want to make sure people have the opportunity to bring action when they are ready to do so," she said.
Lovely and Kathryn Robb, executive director of Child USAdvocacy, said the bill would mean that children can be safer and survivors can find relief.
"We believe that perpetrators should not be rewarded for the silence they create in their victims. That's just not good public policy, nor does it protect our children moving forward," said Robb, who is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
Robb said survivors often take a long time to come forward due to shame, embarrassment and trauma. "We now understand the nature of trauma and what it does to the brains of young children," she said.
Other states including Maine, Vermont and Maryland have removed the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases. The Massachusetts bill currently remains in the Senate and was referred to the committee on the judiciary.
Watch: ‘The truth can come out’: Advocate on bill to end civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse