New York Child Victims Act Will Deliver Justice to Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse and Sen
How Prevalent is Sexual Violence in the United States
“Sexual violence is an affront to human dignity and a crime no matter where it occurs. While rape and sexual assault affect all communities, those at the greatest risk are children, teens, and young women.”(1)
There is no greater responsibility that a government and its citizens have than to protect its most vulnerable populations from sexual victimization. The magnitude of the sexual victimization of women and children in the United States is a national disgrace. As many as 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually abused at some point in their childhood. (2)
Only 12% (3) to 30% (4) of those cases are reported to authorities. Nearly 1 in 5 women, a total of 22 million, in the United States has been raped in her lifetime. (5) And, similar to child sexual abuse, only 28% of rape and sexual assault is ever reported to police. (6) Further, only 31% of rapes or sexual assaults that are reported to police result in an arrest. Further, only 31% of rapes or sexual assaults that are reported to police result in an arrest. (7)
"Adults sexually victimized as children have described their bodies as crime scenes, the evidence of victimization, indelibly imprinted. The memories of the abuse, the mechanisms of coping which developed as a result, and the lifelong consequences of choices made during adulthood to deal with their suffering, are always there as a reminder of the victimization.” (9)
The New York State Child Victims Act will afford victims an opportunity to bring civil claims against their offenders no matter how long ago the abuse took place. They will be given a one year window to bring those claims and the statute of limitation will be extended for criminal and civil claims going forward.
The Damage Caused By Childhood Sexual Abuse
Childhood sexual abuse and adult rape has a lifelong and devastating impact on victims. Sexually abused children can exhibit both short-term and long-term harm, extending far beyond childhood.(10) Most sexually abused children display some post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, and experience chronic cognitive distortion related to their self-worth and self-efficacy, feeling helplessness and hopelessness, impaired trust, self-blame, and low self-esteem. (11) Children often carry this emotional pain into adulthood and experience increased depression, anxiety, and anger. (12)
Adults sexually victimized as children commonly experience sleep disturbances or disorders, flashbacks of the victimization, and develop mechanisms of coping with the helplessness they experienced as a child which manifests itself into increased drug and alcohol abuse, dissociative disorders, suicidal ideation, self-mutilating behaviors, and difficulty with intimacy, often engaging in abusive, dangerous situations or relationships. (13) “Numerous studies suggest that sexual victimization in adolescence significantly increases the likelihood of sexual victimization in adulthood.(14) Studies suggest that sexual victimization in childhood or adolescence increases the likelihood of sexual victimization in adulthood between 2 and 13.7 times.” (15)
“There is an average of 237,868 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year. (16) Every 2 minutes, another American is sexually assaulted. (17) Victims of sexual assault are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression, 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs and 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.” (18) It is also estimated that there were 17,342 pregnancies as a result of rape in 2012 alone. (19) Those targeting our most vulnerable, children and women, are not only the cause of physical, psychological and behavior damage to their victims but their crimes have a significant economic impact. In 1996, the United States Department of Justice estimated the aggregate out-of-pocket costs of rape were about $7.5 billion and when the psychological effects on victims, pain, suffering, and lost quality of life were quantified, the cost of rape was estimated at $127 billion. (20) Using the Consumer Price Index calculator, the cost of rape in 2013 was $189.23 billion. Because violence against children is one of the least well-documented areas of personal crime, a conservative estimate, using the Consumer Price Index calculator, of the cost of child sexual abuse in 2013 is $ 34.2 billion.
“Sexual abuse has a negative impact on children’s educational attainment, later job performance, and earnings. Sexual violence survivors experience reduced income in adulthood as a result of victimization in adolescence, with a lifetime income loss estimated at $241,600.” (21)
Sexual violence is so prevalent in the United States that sadly, it is a common experience among the nation’s most vulnerable.
Abusers and those who facilitated cover ups of children being sexually abused will now be held accountable and victims compensated for the many emotional, physical, and psychological challenges and obstacles put in their way in their lifetime because of the sexual abuse.