Four female state lawmakers spoke out as survivors of childhood sexual abuse in Times Square Tuesday, unveiling a new video encouraging others to come forward.
“I went through years of guilt thinking that I must have done something to deserve that,” explained freshman Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz (D-Queens), the video displaying her story on a large television screen above a gathered crowd.
Cruz was flanked by other pols featured in the video, including state Senator Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx), Assemblywoman Rodynese Bichotte (D-Brooklyn) and Assemblywoman Yuh Line Niou (D-Manhattan).
“I thought I was going to die without ever having spoken about the abuse that happened to me,” said Biaggi. “This is a major step towards ending a culture of silence and building a new set of rules that is trauma-informed and puts survivors first.”
It’s part of public awareness campaign launched by Safe Horizon, a victim services nonprofit, preempting the start of a monumental one time only, one year “look back” period established by the newly enacted Child Victims Act that is set to begin Wednesday, Aug. 14.
That window closes on August 13th, 2020.
The law allows survivors who were already 23 years old or older when the bill was signed on Feb. 14 of this year, to file a civil case against abusers or negligent institutions.
People may file a suit no matter how old they are or how long ago the abuse happened.
The law also expands the statute of limitations from 23 years to 25 for misdemeanors, 28 for felonies and 55 for civil cases.
Data from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center shows one in four girls, and one in six will be sexually abused before the age of 18 — and 34 percent of abusers are related to the child they violate.
The Child Victims Act has been around for years, facing steep opposition from the Catholic Church fearing potentially massive litigation costs associated with cases involving abusive priests.
The courts are bracing for what’s expected to be a massive amount of new lawsuits to be filed starting Wednesday.
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