Every 68 seconds, an American’s life is forever altered by the trauma of sexual assault. 

Sexual assault stands as one of the most abhorrent crimes, leaving deep scars on survivors and shaking the very foundation of trust within our society. 

It’s a sobering statistic that underscores the urgent need for robust sexual assault laws to protect the most vulnerable among us. 

As we confront the prevalence of sexual violence in our society, it’s crucial to examine the effectiveness of existing laws and explore avenues for reform. 

Change in Sexual Assault Legislation

Society is at a critical juncture where the once-silenced voices calling for justice and equity are now being amplified across various platforms. 

Empowered survivors and allies are pushing back against outdated statutes and seeking comprehensive changes in how sexual assault cases are handled legally and socially. 

Over the years, there has been a notable evolution in sexual assault legislation, reflecting changing societal attitudes and priorities. 

  • On January 1, 2019, California law AB1619 came into effect, marking a significant change in the state’s legal landscape regarding sexual assault. 

This new law extended the timeframe for adult victims of sexual assault, expanding their window of opportunity to seek justice. Prior to this legislation, adult victims of sexual assault were subject to a restrictive two-year statute of limitations when filing a civil lawsuit.

  • In October 2019, Assembly Bill 218 was passed, ushering in significant changes to the reporting and litigation of abuse cases. 

This legislation expanded the definition of childhood sexual abuse to encompass all instances of childhood sexual assault, providing a renewed opportunity for victims whose claims previously expired due to the statute of limitations. 

With this new law, survivors now have a three-year window to pursue reparations for past abuse. 

Moreover, it extended the deadline for filing childhood sexual abuse and assault cases from 26 years of age to 40 and increased the time limit from three years to five years for survivors to discover or reasonably should have discovered that they suffered damages

Beyond Legislation: Improving Support Structures

In the ongoing fight against sexual assault, legislation is just one piece of the puzzle. To truly make a difference, we must focus on improving support structures that aid survivors and raise awareness. 

The Psychology of Trauma in Legal Settings

The psychology of trauma in legal settings for sexual assault is complex and multifaceted. 

Survivors of sexual assault often experience a range of psychological reactions, including feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and powerlessness. 

The legal process itself can be daunting and retraumatizing, with survivors facing skepticism, disbelief, and invasive questioning. 

It’s essential for legal professionals to approach survivors with sensitivity, empathy, and understanding, recognizing the profound impact of trauma on memory, behavior, and emotional well-being. 

By creating trauma-informed legal environments that prioritize survivor-centered approaches, we can help survivors feel supported, validated, and empowered throughout the legal process.

Prosecuting Sexual Assault Cases

Prosecuting sexual assault cases is no longer just about punitive measures against the culprit; it’s also about providing support through the intricate legal processes. 

By prioritizing evidence-based practices, victim-centered approaches, and interdisciplinary collaboration, these initiatives seek to ensure fair and effective outcomes for all parties involved. 

This has given abusers a clear message that the community and the legal system stand behind the survivor through every step of the difficult process.

The journey towards reforming sexual assault laws and enhancing case handling is ongoing and multifaceted. 

By prioritizing survivor-centered approaches, evidence-based practices, and interdisciplinary collaboration, we can create a legal framework that better supports survivors and holds perpetrators accountable. 

Let us remain steadfast in our commitment to fostering a safer and more just society for all.

If you or someone you care about has experienced sexual assault, contact our office today we are here to help you.