It’s estimated that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will suffer sexual abuse by an adult by the time they turn 18. For too many, these traumatic incidents burden them as secrets carried with them into adulthood, while abusers walk free and the organizations that enabled them are not held accountable in criminal or civil court. In recent years, so-called “lookback window” laws could change that.
A proposed Florida lookback window law would give thousands of sexual abuse victims in Florida a renewed opportunity to pursue justice. It failed this past legislative session, but lawmakers are proposing to try again next session. More than a dozen states have passed lookback window laws in recent years allowing victims of childhood sexual assault to pursue litigation against their attackers and others responsible, even decades after the abuse ended.
This most recent session, identical bills SB 946 and HB 23 would have created a one-year look-back window in Florida. Sponsors noted that 75 percent of child sexual abuse victims don’t tell anyone for at least one year. Roughly 50 percent haven’t told anyone after five years. Many are silent for a decade or more, as they grapple with a confusing mix of shame, embarrassment and pain. By the time they’re ready just to talk about it, the statute of limitations has expired. Continue reading