As we believe parents strive to protect their children and guide them into becoming successful adults, more than 3 million children in the United States are abused or neglected each year. Child abuse varies upon the nature of maltreatment used against the child. However, the most common form of abuse is sexual abuse, which does not only imply physical contact, but also exposing a child to sexual images, language, or behavior. These exposures can leave long-lasting scars on a child that are likely to follow them into adulthood. 

   Victims of sexual abuse often do not come forward with their report due to feelings such as guilt, shame, a sense of responsibility for what has happened to them, or a threat given by the abuser. Additionally, children may worry that an adult will not believe their story, become resentful towards them, or fear the effects that come along with speaking up.

    Sexual abusers are commonly found to be adults or older children who have previously interacted with the child victim. Perpetrators may be anyone who involves themselves in child-related facilities such as schools, recreation centers, youth sports leagues, or churches. Approximately 90% of children report to knowing their abuser and 30% report their abuser being a family member. Abusers may attempt to “groom” their victims to gain their respect and trust in order to manipulate and abuse them later on. The grooming process may consist of the offender building a relationship with the child’s family, filling the role of a missing family member, providing gifts and special attention to the child, gradually crossing intimate or sexual boundaries, and placing blame or threats to the child to maintain control. Although this manipulation may be difficult to detect, there are many signs that indicate a child is being sexually abused. Physical effects of this form of child abuse include:

  • Nightmares or sleeping problems
  • Not wanting to remove clothing to change or bathe
  • Changes in personality
  • Regression to younger behaviors such as bedwetting or thumb-sucking
  • Excessive worry or fear of being alone
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Bruises or bleeding around the genital area

  Those who have been sexually abused as a child are more likely to enter adulthood with severe mental illnesses. According to the Darkness To Light organization which acts to empower adults against child sex abuse, reports that adult women who were sexually abused as a child are more than twice as likely to suffer from depression and three times more likely to develop a psychiatric disorder. Men who had been sexually abused as a child are 70% more likely to seek psychological treatment for issues such as substance abuse and suicidal thoughts or attempt, likewise, both genders are twice as likely to attempt suicide.

  The statute of limitations in New York State had previously required any victim of sexual assault as a minor to come forward with a criminal charge within five years from the occurrence, whereas civil charges may only be conducted up to five years past their 18th birthday. Many who suffered from child sex abuse find it difficult to come to terms or share their trauma until later on in life, therefore, the previous statute does not benefit those victims.

  In February 2019, Governor Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act, as he promised to hold sex abusers accountable for their actions and ensure that survivors of these crimes receive justice. Therefore, the new statute of limitations allows predators to be punished for their wrongdoings regardless of the time of occurrence and spreads awareness to protect potential victims. 

This legislation allows:

  • Victims to commence a civil lawsuit at any time before they reach the age of 55
  • Victims whose claims had previously been time-barred now have the opportunity to see their day in court by opening a one-year window to commence their action
  • Eliminates the need to file a notice of claim for sexual offenses committed against a minor

The Child Victims Act offers the right for adults or children to receive civil justice against their attacker. Although this may not cure the emotional stress that has been placed upon the victim, the perpetrator shall be held financially liable for their actions.If you would like to share your story, The Law Offices of Rudolph F.X. Milgiore, P.C. is here to listen. We strive to walk you through the legal process and guarantee personal service throughout your case. Every consultation is free of charge and confidential.

It is your turn to speak; let your voice be heard. Those who are afraid to tell their story can receive help by contacting one of the support resources listed below:

             Organization

                      Website

           Helpline

             Darkness To Light

                    D2L.org

    (866) 367-5444

             RAINN

                  Rainn.org     

    (800) 656-4673

             Day One

           DayOneServices.org

    1-(866) 223-1111