How does the law protect victims of sexual abuse in the United States?

How does the law protect victims of sexual abuse in the United States?

In the United States, sexual abuse is a crime punishable by law, and that, depending on the characteristics of each experience, may lead the accused to serve sentences of up to 10 years in prison or, in the slightest case, receive sanctions from the judicial bodies of the state in which the complaint is made.

It should be noted that in the United States, being a completely decentralized country, each state has different laws that are applied according to the indications of the authorities of each region, so the laws are completely different in one state and another.

In New York State, for example, sexual abuse is classified as first degree, second degree and third degree. Each of these levels has different sanctions and may result in the victim of abuse receiving appropriate care, once he or she reports the abuse to the appropriate authorities.

Another example is the state of California, where the Sexual and Assault Law establishes this act as a crime that can lead to sentences of between 3, 6 or 8 years in prison, and up to 13 years in cases of child sexual abuse.

It is important to remember that a case of sexual abuse can occur at any age and in any setting, including at work. For this reason, the main laws against sexual abuse protect victims even from workplace sexual harassment, which is one of the most common in the country.

What should I do to report a case of sexual abuse in the United States?

If you are a victim of a sexual abuse case in any region of the United States, first of all, you must identify the place where the incident occurred very well, and then proceed legally before the competent authorities.

Just as each state has different laws that regulate cases of sexual abuse and harassment, they also have different means by which you can report these types of situations and receive immediate legal assistance.

However, there are also certain means by which you can report this type of aggression at the national level. For example, if it is a case of child sexual abuse, you can report it from anywhere in the country, through the following means:

  •         Línea Stop it Now: 1-888-PREVENT (888-773-2362).
  •         Childhelp: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453).

Through any of these phone lines you can receive attention to any report you may have to make about child sexual abuse in the United States, and even get the answers you need, if you have questions about sexual abuse prevention laws in the country.

How long do I have to wait to report a case of sexual abuse?

In the United States, there are time limits for filing a complaint regarding a personal injury or assault case. This time will depend on the specific laws of each state.

For example, in the state of New York, the maximum time to file a complaint for sexual abuse is 3 years from the time the assault occurred.

In the case of an episode of child sexual abuse, these 3 years are counted from the age of majority of the victim. In other words, if a person suffered an episode of sexual abuse in New York when they were 10 years old, they will be able to file a complaint until the age of 21, 3 years after reaching the age of majority.

However, in August 2019, after a wave of lawsuits from people who decided to raise their voices and denounce cases of sexual abuse they suffered in their childhood, the Child Victims Act was enacted, which eliminates the one-year time limit for reporting child sexual abuse in New York, which was later extended for another year, until 2021.

Reporting is the first step to justice.

Don’t let your sexual abuse case go unpunished. As a victim, the law protects you and gives you the tools you need to get justice. Do not remain silent and denounce. Remember that silence only benefits the abuser.

If you have a story of abuse that you want to share, in the #YoDigoNoMas movement, we are here to listen to you and give you all the help you need to overcome this episode and move forward.

Be part of the change and join this movement so that together we can continue the fight against child sexual abuse.