Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations in Washington State

Categories: Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations in Washington State

Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations in Washington StateThere is no situation in which sexual abuse should be tolerated or go unpunished. If you or someone you love has experienced sexual abuse as an adult or a child, we encourage you to speak your truth. Many survivors decide to suffer in silence because they believe too much time has passed for them to seek justice. 

Though there is a sexual abuse statute of limitations in Washington State, the court system and lawmakers recognize that surviving sexual abuse is not as cut and dried as something like surviving a vehicle accident. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration. Do not discount your ability to file a legal claim against your abuser based on time. It is important to understand your options. 

What Is the Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations for Adults In Washington?

Each state has its own statute of limitations on sexual abuse. Unlike most other instances of personal injury, where the clock starts ticking from the date the injury occurred, the sexual abuse statute of limitations can be complex. If you are an adult who experienced sexual abuse as an adult, it is important to bring your claim as soon as possible, but within three years of the incident. 

Is There a Statute of Limitations on Child Sexual Abuse in the State of Washington? 

Yes, the basic statute of limitations for child sexual abuse is three years, but the three years generally doesn’t start counting right away. Lawmakers have tried to give survivors some leeway to make sure they have the opportunity to seek justice. Thus, the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse can start from the later of three different points, depending on the unique circumstance of the abuse and its impact on the survivor: 

  • Within three years of the survivor turning 18 years old;
  • Within three years of the time the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered that the injury or condition was caused by the act; or
  • Within three years of the time the victim discovered that the act caused the injury for which the claim is brought. 

Your attorney can help you determine if you have a claim that falls within the statute of limitations on sexual abuse. 

Why Is There a Different Statute of Limitations for Childhood Sexual Abuse?

Unfortunately, childhood sexual abuse can shape the way a child perceives the world and how they interact in it. The long-term impacts of childhood sexual abuse are still being revealed. Victims may repress memories of the abuse, which may not be uncovered until the standard three-year sexual abuse statute of limitations has expired. In other situations, the victim may not be able to connect the abuse to any injury within that initial three years. 

Trauma can take years to surface, and when it does, it can manifest in unexpected ways. The victim may be unable to connect the abuse to emotional damage. Approximately 70% of rape or sexual assault victims experience moderate to severe distress. This is a larger percentage than for any other violent crime.

Prevalence of Sexual Abuse

You are not alone, legally or in your position as a sexual abuse survivor. Though countless cases go unreported, those that are reported have a positive impact that spans far beyond the survivor who has decided to point the finger at their abuser. 

Here are some statistics compiled over the last decade regarding sexual abuse nationally and at the state level. 

  • 1 in 5 women in the U.S. have experienced completed or attempted rape during their lifetime, and nearly a quarter (24.8%) of men have experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.
  • There are an estimated 463,634 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault on average each year in the United States.
  • It is estimated that in 2018, there were  734,630 people raped (including threatened, attempted, or completed rape) in the U.S. 
  • In 2017, Community Sexual Assault Programs in Washington served 13,398 primary victims of sexual assault and 9,175 secondary sexual assault victims. 

Remember that these statistics can only be generated using reported instances of sexual abuse. Thus, the real numbers may be even higher. 

How to Seek Justice for Sexual Abuse in Washington 

Even though the court system can never take away the abuse you have experienced, you may find some degree of relief and peace in bringing your abuser into the light. Your first step is to contact an experienced sexual abuse attorney. The award-winning team at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner understands that coming forward can be a very difficult thing to do. Let us assure you that we believe you, and you are not in this alone. We will use our resources to conduct an independent investigation into your case and gather necessary evidence. Your responsibility is to tell your story and heal. Contact us to schedule a case consultation.

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Matt Conner

Matt Conner has a proven track record of success. Following his graduation from Willamette University with a double major in mathematics and economics, Matt worked as an economist for the Office of Economic Analysis for the State of Oregon before moving onto working in mortgage banking and real estate.