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Filing a Civil Suit for Damages:
First Steps

Other Article: Connecticut Statute of Limitations  



By Sue Smith

These are very difficult times for adult survivors of child sexual abuse (CSA). Constant media stories and public awareness about child sexual abuse have caused all survivors of CSA to relive their own victimization.

The most important thing to do is to talk to a mental health professional about how you are feeling. It is very helpful for victims to establish a touch base relationship with a therapist so that at times of crisis --when events in your life or in the lives of others "bring it all back"-- you have someone to go to. If you are disclosing or confronting your abuser for the first time, that period can be re-traumatizing and having the support of an experienced trauma therapist is necessary. Lawsuits are not always therapeutic and cannot replace therapy as a means of coping, healing or obtaining closure. Some victims find lawsuits to be validating but others can be re-traumatized by the process.

Attorney Smith has been working with and for victims of sexual abuse for more  than 25 years. She was recently recognized for her contributions by the Office of Victims Services for the State of Connecticut.

Discuss the possibility of bringing a claim with your therapist. If you and your therapist determine that it bringing a claim would be a good thing for you, explore some of the resources on line and in book stores that explain the litigation process

If you are planning to bring a law suit, DO NOT read self-help books that talk about the symptoms of child sexual abuse. What you have read can be used by the defense to create the inference that your story or symptoms are fabricated. DO NOT write angry letters to your abuser, his spouse or employer. DO NOT approach the abuser yourself and attempt to negotiate a settlement because no matter how sincere your motivation, you could be accused of extortion. DO NOT engage in hypnosis or any other kind of therapy that is designed to recover memories.

The Connecticut's statute of limitations statute allows an extended period of time for victims of child sexual abuse (CSA) to bring claims against their abuser, or for persons or institutions responsible for the abuser. Suit must be filed no later than the day before a victim's 48th birthday. If the abuse took place in Connecticut and if the perpetrator lives in Connecticut suit can be brought in Connecticut regardless where the victim resides.  Other jurisdictional scenarios are possible depending on the circumstances. See Connecticut's Statute of Limitations for more information.*

Finally, discuss the viability of your potential case with an attorney who is experienced in sexual abuse cases. Not every case of victimization leads to a viable claim. An attorney can discuss this with you based on your particular facts and circumstances.  

* If you are looking for the Statute of Limitations in
states other than Connecticut, you may look at

See articles about:
 * The Gunnery
*Indian Mountain School
*Saint Francis Hospital

You have until the day before your 48th Birthday to bring suit in Connecticut. See Article

Allow your inner self to grow and bloom by confronting your abuse in whatever way helps you heal. "Break the Silence"

Susan K. Smith
Mediator, and
Victim Advocate


45 West Main St
(Route 44)
Avon Center Office Park Avon, CT 06001


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The Fine Print: This web site provides general information only and cannot be relied upon as legal advice. Laws change  and differ from State to State. Applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. You should consult an attorney about your particular situation.

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