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How Does the Current N.Y. Child Sexual Assault Law Effect Victims?

2018 was the height of the #MeToo Movement, when over 200 women spoke up and spoke out against sexual assault that they’ve survived in the workplace. These conversations brought to light the many laws that come into play when it comes to sexual assault, and what can legally be done to attackers and the organizations/institutions that enable them.

Now more than ever people are paying attention to legislation that addresses sexual assault. Currently, the New York legislature is looking at a bill that will support the efforts of sexual assault survivors to obtain healing and get the justice they deserve.

The current child sexual assault law states that child survivors of sexual assault can report the crimes to authority officials up to the age of 23 (five years after they turn the legal age). In New York, the bill being brought before the Legislature, The Child Victims Act, will extend the statute of limitations to the age of 28 in criminal cases and the age of 50 in civil cases, with a one year-window for those who have not yet reached the age of 50 to bring their civil claims without regard to how long ago the sexual assaults occurred.   

Over 90% of child sexual assault survivors report that their attackers were people they knew and trusted, making it more difficult for them to step forward. As children, victims cannot be expected to speak for  themselves; with the opportunity to bring these claims well into adulthood, victims will have a better chance at healing and obtaining justice.   

The Long-Term Damages

Survivors of sexual assault can display their trauma in various ways. Children who are being or have been sexually assaulted resort back to behaviors that they’ve grown out of, such as bedwetting or fear of the dark. These children also may refuse to eat, be alone with certain people or act out aggressively towards strangers. If the child is of school age, parents or guardians may notice a decline in grades, a decreased desire to participate in activities and self-isolation.

In adults, unrecognized trauma can surface in other ways. Adolescent teens and young adults who have suffered childhood sexual abuse may lean towards sexual promiscuity earlier in life than their peers. They may also suffer from depression, anorexia, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), paranoia, drug/alcohol abuse, lack of trust, violence or lack of social skills in group settings. Studies show that victims who do not heal or speak of their trauma are 43% more likely to commit suicide.

What Can Be Done Now?

The Child Victims Act needs to be approved by the New York Legislature and signed into law by Governor Cuomo. The Child Victims Act is expected to pass in 2019.   

Citizens can support this bill by going to nysenate.gov and signing their name in support of its passing.

The survivors of childhood sexual abuse need to know that the people of New York have their back and will not stop until justice is served. If you or someone you love has suffered sexual abuse in childhood, now is the time to act and speak up. Herman Law has years of experience handling sexual child abuse cases and will handle your case with care and sensitivity. You want your lawyers to stand with you when you let your voice be heard, and the Herman Law lawyers will do just that. To learn more about what we can do for you or your loved one, do not hesitate to call (800) 686-9921 or visit our website at hermanlaw.com for a free consultation.