The Child Victims Act – New York
The issue of sexual abuse of children is very serious and yet, innocent children continue to be victims of such abuse. The exact number of children who are sexually abused is not known, but the numbers are definitely not minuscule.
Children in every culture, ethnicity, and race have encountered sexual abuse at the hands of family members, visitors, TV stars, Hollywood moguls, babysitters, and the clergy. Child sexual abuse has always been a topic that people feel uncomfortable talking about – the victims included. Some children are just too afraid to speak up; others are shy or ashamed, and then there are others who simply feel that no one would believe them.
The excessive use of media and the rapid speed with which information moves from one place to another in today’s digital age can sometimes be annoying. With easy access to platforms where people can share what they feel or what they’ve experienced, more and more people who were once sexually abused as children are speaking up. And as these people share their experience, it becomes evident that young victims of sexual abuse deserve some form of justice.
A large majority of these adults who were abused as children suffer from post-traumatic distress syndrome. Others continue to have flashbacks. There are still others who continue to suffer from depression and anxiety; some cannot stay in long-term relationships because of the mental trauma they suffered when they were children. Overall, many of these sexually abused children have a poor quality of life and difficulties in their personal lives and social relationships.
Child Sexual Abuse: Some Statistics
- Rough estimates indicate that anywhere from 3-10% of childhood sexual molestation cases are reported in the US. It is very likely that these numbers are gross estimates because there are numerous victims who do not speak out.
- Child molestation occurs in every race and culture. The perpetrator may be at any level of society and could be anyone – a lawyer, doctor, nurse, judge, dentist, etc. No profession is immune.
- The majority of offenders are family members, uncles, nephews, older parents, cousins and so on. In some cases, the sexual molestation may be done by the parent (s) or other siblings.
- Among the adults who were abused as children, at least 30% of males and 16% of female victims have never mentioned the abuse to anyone, even their own parents. A major reason for their silence is the fear that nobody would believe them.
- It is estimated that nearly 25% of girls and 15% of boys are sexually molested before they reach age 16.
- The victims between the ages of 16-19 years (usually girls) are 3-4 times more to be victims of attempted rape, rape or some type of sexual assault compared to the general population.
- In about 70% of cases, the sexual molestation occurs in the home of the victim. In the rest of the cases, the sexual molestation occurs in the home of the offender or at another location such as an on the beach, a club, a hotel, etc.
- Child sexual molestation is not a benign crime; it has repercussions way beyond childhood. Girls who are sexually abused as a child are twice as likely to develop depression when they become adults. In addition, many of these women will have difficulty with interpersonal relationships. Overall, women who were sexually molested as a child are 3-4 times as likely to develop some type of mental health disorder compared to the general population.
- Many children who are sexually molested do poorly at school. Many get into trouble at school with truancy, fighting, and bullying.
- Children who were sexually molested often become withdrawn and socially isolated.
- Adults, both men, and women, who were sexually molested as a child are nearly 2-3 times likely to report an attempted suicide.
- The majority of children who are sexually abused keep silent and never mention the abuse to anyone for fear of shame, embarrassment or fear.
- Childhood sexual abuse has been reported in every state in the US.
- No child is immune from it.
Child Victims Act – New York
Many of the children who come forward as adults and speak openly about their abuse are still unable to get justice because in several cases, the statute of limitations has already expired. But now the State of New York has taken the lead in fighting against sexual abuse. It will soon be introducing the Child Victims Act which will extend the duration in which the abused person can demand legal action against the perpetrator.
At present, the law calls for children who were sexually abused to report the crime by the time they turn 23 years of age, but with this new legislation, this will be increased to 28 years. Also, the Bill will also allow a 12-month window during which individuals for whom the statute of limitations has passed can still file a lawsuit.
In the past, when childhood sexual molestation was reported, the subject was hushed, and not much was done about it. Very rarely were children taken away from their families and the offenders rarely were legally prosecuted. Unfortunately, in many cases by the time the victim attempted to sue, the case was thrown out because the statute of limitations had expired.
But in the recent years, the issue of sexual abuse has been given serious attention, and it is now recognized that childhood sexual molestation is a serious crime with enormous repercussions to the victim that go way beyond just the physical trauma. The majority of these children grow up into adults and develop a variety of mental health disorders and lead a very poor quality of life. Over the past decade, many victims have come forward with their stories of child sexual molestation. The internet and social media have given these individuals a forum to discuss a taboo topic, that usually brings shame and embarrassment.
What the State of New York is trying to implement is an excellent step that is more likely to bring justice to victims of sexual abuse. It is a proactive measure that can help victims get their day in court. The New York legal system is revising its law on childhood sexual molestation, and these changes are supported by legal experts, sociologists, physicians, and children advocates.
Based on the current law, victims of sexual abuse could only seek justice until the age of 23. But with the Child Victims Act, this will now extend this age to 28 years for all criminal cases and extend to 50 years for civil cases. However, there is still the issue of limited knowledge. Most people don’t know about the Child Victims Act. That is probably why many social organizations, who work for the betterment of children and fight for children’s rights, are using social media platforms to increase awareness about the recent change in the law in New York.
At present, the Child Victims Act has unanimously passed in the New York Senate, but Governor Andrew Cuomo has still not signed the Act. It is not that he opposes the Bill; it is just the process that is causing the delay. The latest word from the governor’s office in an email sent to NEWS10 ABC a few days ago states, “We are working to identify a date for a bill signing with advocates and survivors who have been affected by this issue… need to have an opportunity to attend this historic event.”
Lawyers working for victims of childhood sexual abuse state that all the monetary settlements and non-disclosure agreements that were made between the victim and the offenders in the past will be voided and these individuals will have the opportunity to come to court and present their case. Because this is a bipartisan issue that involves the core of a family, the Bill will be signed on February 19, 2019.
Call the Sex Abuse Attorneys at McDonald Worley
If you are a victim of child abuse or if you know someone who was abused as a child but never got the justice they deserved, call the sex abuse attorneys at McDonald Worley today. We can provide you with more information about the Child Victims Act and how it can provide all abuse survivors, regardless of their current year, one year to file a claim. Keep in mind that our sex abuse attorneys represent abuse survivors, not the Catholic Church, not the Boy Scouts and not any other institution that enabled abuse. McDonald Worley’s sex abuse attorneys are here to defend the survivors and are here to ensure they get justice, and the perpetrators pay for their crime. Call or email us today and our New York Sex Abuse attorneys will make sure your voice is heard, and those who have made you live through this torture get what they deserve.