A.648 (Rosenthal)/S.66 (Hoylman)
The Adult Survivors Act
Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (“WBASNY”) supports the passage of the Adult Survivors Act, sponsored by Assemblymember Rosenthal and Senator Hoylman. This Act amends the Civil Practice Laws & Rules (“CPLR”) by creating a one-year lookback window for cases beyond the time-barred statute of limitations during which an adult survivor of sexual assault may file a civil cause of action against their abuser and, where indicated, the negligent institution that failed stop the abuse.
More specifically, the Adult Survivors Act would provide adult survivors of sexual violence more time to come forward and seek redress for the trauma they have endured at the hands of their abuser and, in some instances, an institution that did not act to end the abuse. Everyone’s experience with sexual trauma is different. For some survivors, it may take many years to realize, , process, and accept their trauma – and perhaps even longer to decide to come forward. Additionally, we have seen countless examples in the media where survivors who do choose to come forward are not believed and sometimes even “victim-blamed.” These outside pressures create further barriers to survivors in terms of discussing their abuse publicly – much less in a civil complaint. Furthermore, even a public trial may be more traumatizing than the abuse itself. This Act would give survivors, who have previously missed the statute of limitations, an additional year past the time-barred statute of limitations to file a cause of action.
Sexual violence is a pervasive problem in the United States and it affects men, women, and children from all communities. Approximately one in three women will be subjected to unwanted sexual contact and/or sexual experiences in their lifetime; one in six men will be similarly affected. Aside from physical injuries inflicted by their abuser, survivors commonly experience depression, guilt, stress, and perpetual fear – all of which can plague survivors for their entire lives. The extreme difficulty of merely acknowledging their abuse coupled with the societal pressure of not being believed all too often discourages survivors from coming forward and speaking about the abuse until they are in a better position psychologically. Unfortunately, this healing process can take well beyond the time frame afforded them by the statute of limitations. Passing the Adult Survivors Act will allow those adult survivors struggling with devastating trauma from sexual abuse the time they need, thus strengthening the rights of sexual abuse victims.
WBASNY has a long and honored role in making life better for women and children in our world, by advocating for equality and fair treatment. The Association has long been at the forefront of changing laws in the areas of domestic violence and supporting initiatives against crimes of sexual violence. Our mission commits us to address and support legislation which advocates for change for women and children throughout the state and promotes the fair and equal administration of justice for all. With over 4,000 members strong, WBASNY speaks as one voice to advocate for equal access to justice for women and children both here in the State of New York and beyond.