Statute of Limitations

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In the past, there were a few select people who I had told about my abuse. Most of the time they would ask if I would press charges against my step-father. I always convinced myself that I wouldn’t press charges because I didn’t want to go through the process of court dates and such. I also live in a different state which complicate that. Nobody ever really asked me that question until I was well into adulthood. I didn’t really start waking up from the emotional coma that I was in until recently. By the time I was asked about that, I had already gotten married and had my son. I was also playing pretend, just like my mother, trying to convince everybody that everything was fine. I basically told everyone that I didn’t believe that he was a threat to the public and that I was purely a matter of convenience since I lived with him. I figured that he only abused me because I lived in the same house as him but I really didn’t think that he was, or ever would, prey on anyone outside of the house. I  also was working on my relationship with my mother and giving her a clean slate and a second chance with me. This was all before I found out that I wasn’t his first victim and I began to “wake up.”

I beat myself up about this when I first came to terms with the abuse. I’m over that now but it is something worth discussing. I’m from Oklahoma. The statute of limitation used to be only 5 years but was extended to 7 years in 1990. Senator Debbie Leftwich (OKC-D) even said that 7 years was not enough time for most victims. In 2005 the statute was finally raised to 12 years after discovery. It’s really confusing though. Even at 12 years passed “discovery, ” the latest that I could have done anything would have been over 3 years ago. I’m not mad at myself anymore about it but I sure do wish that this law would be overturned in favor of no statute of limitations for victims like myself.

Sometimes I think, what if I lived in a state with no limitation? Would I go through with pressing charges at this point? Just the thought makes my stomach turn because I am still fighting with my own cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, I don’t want him to harm anyone else and justice must be served but on the other hand… he was my dad and even though I can’t stand him now, the little girl inside of me loved him at some point- for years. Logically, my mother should be charged as well for enabling the abuse and not reporting it. I still have mixed feelings about her as well. I feel like their lives are really shitty right now so do I really want to go and make it even worse? I think it all goes back to the fact that I think that I would feel horribly guilty of any punishment that was bestowed upon them. It’s all so conflicting!

So, I’d like to throw this question out there to other readers that have a similar past. Did you live in a state with the statutes or not? If your perpetrator is free because of these laws, how do you internally justify things without beating yourself up about it? All in all, I think that all citizens need to be made aware of these kinds of laws. Not everyone is completely aware. Even my own step-father was ill-informed way back when it was only 2 years. He thought that if he didn’t penetrate me, then it wasn’t illegal. He couldn’t have been more wrong. His ass would still be in jail right now or at least be on the sex offender registry.

Here is a list of state-by-state statutes for anyone interested from the NDAA.

 

 

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9 responses »

  1. I believe there should be no limitations… However, the country where I come from the legal system doesn’t really give a just punishment to rapists, pedophiles and the likes of them. However, we are fighting for death sentence, life imprisonment and the likes. There is no time period or limitation like you have it in the US. However, there is a demand for physical evidence. Now, after so many years of silence I have no way to prove it happened. The mere thought of facing him or even discussing it in front of people I hardly know gives me shivers. Plus, our culture here isn’t very favorable towards girls and almost always make it the fault of the woman. If it a girl child then they say she will grow up and forget it. I hope and pray at least you and others in your country receive justice if not by law at least through God. Honestly, I wish I had all I needed to confront him and make him realize what he did was wrong. As a past victim of abuse, I strongly believe a victim should be heard even after 100 years of the abuse. I hope the right people read this and take some action to change laws in your country/state/wherever… The world needs a change for sure!
    Thank you for the list. Maybe if I could research some more and present a case, it could reach our parliament. That is hoping for the best, it is worth a shot. I really appreciate your honesty and courage to write all the posts you have written on this blog. love to you and yours

    • I really hope that we will see major changes in these laws in our lifetimes. I think that it takes work from people like us. I hope to get busy writing law makers and speaking out more in the future. Good luck to you if you chose to do the same! Thanks for your comment… have a great weekend!

  2. Great post. The statute of limitations for the state where I grew up (I also don’t live there anymore and neither do my parents…) doesn’t expire until I turn 50. So I have plenty of time to decide. I’m still recovering really significant memories for such a case and I’m not sure that I’m ready right now due to the intense work in my personal healing. I’m trying to be understanding of that and give myself the time I need. But I also feel like I have to hurry and do it out of fear because soon my family will know where I live for the first time in many years. It’s very complicated. I think it’s terrible that people would be rushed or blocked from prosecuting at all by these statutes.

    I can also relate to the cognitive dissonance you describe–it’s so difficult to really understand on a deep level that people as sick as my parents and brother won’t stop with just me, and that they don’t deserve my sympathy after destroying my life. But it’s all a process. I hope the laws in Oklahoma will change some day.

    • Thanks for your response! You should take all the time that you need. I’m sure there would be a lot that goes in to pressing charges and that could be really draining. Sometimes I think that I don’t want to drag my husband and kids through that even if I could. That’s good that you have that much time. Hopefully your parents won’t find you before them. It is all on your terms now! I do wish that these laws could be overturned on a federal level and just get rid of them. They only protect the perps.

  3. This is a great article. In Virginia, there is no statute of limitations for felonies. If there was, it would have started three years ago for me, because that is when I “discovered” my abuse. I was a memory recovery case. I still plan to file a suit against my parents – all of them. I am working on the aspects of corroboration. I don’t know when those details will fall in to place yet.

    On another note, “trauma bonding” is a real thing. It can be very strong. It can keep us from prosecuting or even discussing our abuse. Your honesty is fantastic. It will bring you where you need to be.

    • I just looked up “trauma bonding.” Much of that definitely sounds familiar. I am uncovering many memories just by writing this blog but many of my memories I chose to hold on to and just not ever forget. For some reason or another, I always knew that I would need those memories again some day. Thanks for reading and good luck with your case!

  4. I wish that thousands upon thousand could see this post and get the full impact of what you’ve written. This battle goes on inside of every survivor’s mind, I believe, and is one that is rarely discussed. I am not a victim of child sexual molestation, but I was married to a practicing pedophile for almost forty years (without knowing it). He now is serving 30 years in prison for crimes he committed. Thankfully, there was “hard evidence”, no court trial, and he did plead guilty (due to the evidence presented). Of course there were only a handful of victims who came forward, but that was enough to convict him. Most pedophiles molest an average of 250 victimes (Anna Salter’s books are excellent — she’s done years and years of work with pedophiles)

    That being said, it’s an ongoing battle for each one who has been molested, “What should I do?” I believe this is an extremely sensitive issue and only the one molested can answer this question. It’s not that easy to speak up and press charges about child molestation. Most of our coping mechanisms are “silence”, “forgetting”, “moving forward” and unless there is excellent counseling and guidance in place, I think the outcome for the victim/survivor could be devastating.

    However, to be silent to the authorities and NOT press charges allows the molester to continue, and if you’ve been reading my blog http://www.findingahealingplace.com you’ll see that there is no real data on the rehabilitation of pedophiles meaning they will continue molesting. The recidivism rate is not accurate because when pedophiles get caught again, they themselves will say that they messed up — should have been smarter. So, this knowledge places a heavy burden on the victim.

    I personally wish that there was no statute of limitation in every state allowing victims time to get strong enough to make their own decision without pressure. Thanks so much for bringing this most important issue to the forefront!

    • Hi Clara,
      Thanks for your response! I have a hard time believing that a pedophile can be rehabilitated unless they have absolutely no contact with children. Previous alcoholics commonly don’t go to bars and recovered addicts typically stay away from people and places that would encourage drug use. I use this analogy because I imagine that pedophilia is a sort of addiction in the same respect. It is unfortunate that I can’t press charges against my parents. I certainly hope that I was his last victim.

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