When a sex abuse victim comes forward years after the initial abuse incident to bring a claim, there are always skeptics who vocally doubt the veracity of the claim. "Why would you wait so long?" They'll ask, "And, after all these years, does it still matter?"
Sex abuse victims: Do not let these skeptics dissuade you from bringing a claim, and do not let them weaken your resolve. Once you realize that speaking up against the abuser is the right thing to do, stay the course. There are many reasons why sex abuse is not reported immediately by victims.
Reasons For Non-Reporting
- Shame: Sexual abuse is a deeply traumatic experience. For many people, the shame and embarrassment that comes from such a terrible experience keeps them from coming forward. Making a statement or coming forward publicly is like turning a spotlight on the embarrassment.
- Lack of support: In some cases, victims wonder if anyone would believe them at all. This is especially true when the abuser is a clergy member, coach or person in some other position of respect and authority. Sometimes victims will tell their parents, and their parents don't believe them or tell them to keep it quiet for some reason.
- Time: For many people, it takes years to come to terms with what happened. By the time they are ready to bring a claim, they think too much time has passed. It is important to know the time periods open for bringing claims of this kind.
- Self-protection: For a lot of victims, they don't want the publicity of bringing a sex abuse claim to keep them from career opportunities or to embarrass them with family and friends.
These are just a few of the reasons why sex abuse victims don't bring legal claims or report the abuse.
If you have been abused, it is important to talk with a lawyer as soon as possible. It takes great courage to report the abuse and bring a civil claim. But your courage could result in keeping a sex offender from hurting others, and it could bring you a measure of justice, closure and financial compensation.