Victims of Abuse Can Use the Law to Take a Stand

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Victims of Abuse Can Use the Law to Take a Stand


Sexual abuse of any kind is a heinous crime, and those who are guilty of it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But even more than this, organizations and institutions that use their power to cover up cases of abuse should be brought to light and held accountable for their actions.


That’s why the Hidden Predator Act was passed in 2015. It allows victims of childhood sexual abuse in Georgia to bring their claims to court after they discover them. These “discovery claims” are open to individuals who are under 23 years of age and discovered they were abused any time in their life, and anyone over the age of 23 may bring their predators to court within two years of discovering they were abused. This is one reason why efforts to expand the Hidden Predator Act are currently underway.


What are Discovery Claims?

Discovery claims are claims that are brought against individuals and organizations responsible for abuse, after the victim has discovered the event. These types of claims exist because many individuals who suffer from childhood sexual abuse do not even remember that these events happened until many years later. Another possibility is that they remember the events, but it’s not until later that they realize what they experienced was sexual abuse. The provisions of the Hidden Predator Act may be expanded soon.


The Future of the Hidden Predator Act

Earlier this year, there was an attempt to pass a Hidden Predator Act part two, which would have expanded the ability of childhood sexual abuse victims to bring their abusers (and those who enabled them) to justice. It would have allowed victims to come forward any time before the age of 38 and made it easier for them to prove that organizations acted to hide the abuse if they knew about it.


This new version of the Hidden Predator Act was killed in the state Senate when a number of prominent organizations convinced Senate leaders to gut the bill. The Senate session for 2018 came to an end without lawmakers' reaching a compromise on the bill—so it’s likely that this is going to be a major priority for Georgia lawmakers in 2019.


The Hidden Predator Act may be expanded in the future. But for now, the law depends on the limited provisions of the 2015 Hidden Predator Act.


What to do if You’ve Been Abused

If you are a victim of sexual abuse of any kind, you can talk to a legal professional about what happened. Many attorneys offer a free consultation, so you can talk to someone without committing to filing a lawsuit. It’s safe to talk to an attorney about what happened. Anything you tell the attorney during a consultation is completely confidential, so you don’t have to worry about anyone finding out.


Many victims of abuse hesitate to share their stories, and they have their reasons. It can be embarrassing to have these stories come out. Many confused emotions are often tied up in the event. Someone may have doubts in their own mind about whether or not what happened was “really” abuse.


If you’ve just discovered your abuse, the law in Georgia allows you to file a suit against your abuser or any organizations that had a duty of care. You can file this suit any time after your discovery of the abuse if you are under the age of 23. In addition, you can file within two years of discovery if over the age of 23.

 

If the abuse has happened recently, we encourage you to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. You can get through this. Please  if you would like an attorney to help.

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