I’m asking all of you to hold me accountable. There’s this thing — this very big thing — on my “bucket list.”
I keep an online bucket list at wakeuplist.com, and it contains all sorts of seemingly mundane, but important-to-me tasks, along with pie-in-the-sky dreams and aspirations.
Of all of them, none is more meaningful than this one:
Remove the criminal Statute of Limitations on childhood sexual abuse in my state.
Here’s why it matters, for people like me:
The “old” statutes required that a person like me, who has been a victim of childhood sexual abuse, had only until her/his 21st birthday to report the abuse, and have a chance at prosecution of their abuser.
Of course, there were exceptions.
What if the person didn’t remember until after that, because they’d repressed it? Well, they’d have until three years after they remembered, in that case.
What if they remembered, but they didn’t understand how it affected them (in intimacy, child-rearing, mental health or other ways) until much later?
Well, they’d have until three years after they understood to bring their story forward.
None of these exceptions helped me, personally, and they didn’t help the students who were molested alongside me, because many of us fought to survive through our twenties, and spent our thirties trying to gain some footing, and — if we figured out how deeply our abuse affected us — we spent years trying to get our lives together, and by the time we even had time to think, “You know, that man shouldn’t be walking the streets, free to reoffend…” It was too late.
In 2013, the law changed in our state to sort of provide a catch-all, built-in, extra time padding, which allowed charges to be brought until the victim’s 30th birthday.
Progress, for sure, but again… Too late.
So, now… Now, there is a bill, sponsored by Representative Griffey and others in Washington state, which would remove the statute of limitations on (among other crimes) childhood sexual abuse.
On Tuesday morning, it goes before the House Public Safety Committee.
I will be there to testify.
I will be there to speak, for three minutes, about my story, and the stories of others who experienced abuse, literally at the hands of our teacher.
The Capitol is right across the street from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). The committee members — if they chose to do so — could walk across the street, ask for the file on my teacher, and read for themselves what he is affirmed to have done.
I will use his name.
I will not offer him anonymity.
I will testify in the most effective way I know how, and I will pray.
I will pray this bill gets out of committee, and I will pray it gets bi-partisan support and becomes law.
I will pray those voting see the TRUE cost of not passing the bill, and not worry that passing it will create an expensive, legal free-for-all judicial overload.
And then… I will celebrate the bill’s passage. I will check this item off my bucket list, and I will thank God for the vision he has provided.
I just thought I should tell you all, before I chicken out.
Please pray for me, and for the brave souls who will join me on Tuesday.
We have a lot of work to do.