In the United States, about one-third of child-sexual-abuse victims come forward with their allegations before adulthood. Another third disclose far later in life—the median age is 52—and the rest never reveal their past trauma at all. In recent years, many children’s advocates have looked to shift these low reporting numbers (and correspondingly low rates of prosecution) by addressing a legal hurdle that lies in the way of many victims seeking court-based justice: the statute of limitations.
Speaking yesterday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, the lawyer Kathryn Robb, who serves as the executive director of CHILD US Advocacy, noted a clear gap between lawmakers’ understanding of abuse and their visions of justice. “There’s a lot of ignorance about the nature of trauma, why victims don’t disclose, and the idiocy of statutes of limitations, their arbitrary unfairness,” Robb said. “That’s a bit of a frustration, just trying to educate legislative leaders and governors across the [country].”