Hawaii Legislature aims to extend the statute of limitations for survivors of childhood sexual abuse
News Release from Office of Rep. Cynthia Thielen January 29, 2020
Rep. Cynthia Thielen (50th District, Kailua-Kaneohe Bay) is introducing legislation to amend statutory limitations on the time period in which a survivor of childhood sexual abuse may file a civil suit. The bill also permits the court to order restorative justice measures, if deemed appropriate.
HB2177 will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee on January 30 at 2:45 pm in Capitol Conference Room 325.
The proposed legislation extends the statute of limitations to up to forty years after the 18th birthday of the childhood sexual-abuse survivor. Current Hawai'i law requires victims to report and file a lawsuit within eight years of their 18th birthday, up to the age of 26, or three years after discovering that an injury or illness during adulthood was caused by childhood sexual abuse.
Survivors of childhood sexual abuse often suppress the truth about their experiences until they reach adulthood. The delay may stem from fear, disbelief, anger, helplessness, anxiety, embarrassment, or other feelings that are not the survivors' fault.
Some studies have estimated that between 60 and 80 percent of childhood sexual abuse survivors withhold disclosure of their abuse until adulthood. The average delay is approximately 20 years, while some survivors delay disclosure for up to 50 years.
"We need to send the message to sexual abusers that they will not be safe in this state, and protect to the best of our ability the innocent children of Hawaii," said Rep. Thielen. "It is not fair that we put the burden on victims to process the psychological damage of childhood sexual abuse, and allow the inflictors of this abuse to continue to walk free among us."
HB2177: Text, Status
SB2316: Text, Status