Hello. I'm 39 and am interested in suing my mother for child abuse, which obviously was 30 ish years ago. Statute of limitations is an issue, I'm aware. Is there any way around this? My short story is this: while I've been aware of the abuse my ENTIRE life, I mostly tabled it and just brushed it off for years. Fast forward to about 2 years ago. Things changed. I had a son. The active, youngish life is gone and I've been more and more confronted with what I've tried to ignore most of my adult life. I'm pretty messed up from it and have been to many shrinks. I do NOT care about getting 1 penny from this. This isn't a cash grab! I have a job and steady income and am not even materialistic too begin with. What I do seek, is vindication. I feel I need closure and that she should pay for what she has done. Frankly, I think she needs to be imprisoned. If that's out of the question then perhaps a monetary settlement will be the only "punishment," and that would be better than nothing in my eyes, since there are only 2 ways of "punishing people" in our legal system (money or prison, or both I suppose).
So is there anyway around these statute of lims? I didn't realize I was damaged psychologically 10 years ago, so how could I have sued her then? I realized it (the abuse) had happened, but I lived a life (falsely) in a way that enable me to get by. Now I'm front and center with all the horrible things that I cannot get out of my head, I'm married, I have a son, and it ALL came back to me the day I had my son, 2 years ago. All the AWFUL memories that haunt me silly. What people that were not abused may never understand is this. Once you are abused, there's like a microchip in your brain and it really screws with you, and as I'm finding out, it screws with you MUCH more when your young days are behind you and you are entering mid-life.
P.S. Thought this would've been under "criminal law" but was advised to ask it under a civil litigation domain.
1 Answer from Attorneys
I am sorry to hear about your difficult situation.
California Code of Civil Procedure Section 340.1 allows for a law suit for damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse "within three years of the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of majority was caused by the sexual abuse. Because you are over 26 years of age, there are additional procedural hurdles in CCP § 340.1 that you must meet -- but the claim in this case is not theoretically impossible if you can satisfy the discovery limitation.
I strongly suggest you find and speak to a lawyer who works in this area for advice, including the possibility of delayed criminal prosecution.