Also referred to as the “CVA”, the Child Victims Act is a temporary act signed into law in New York that extends the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. Victims of child sexual abuse can now file a lawsuit regardless of when the abuse occurred.
For example, a victim who is 50 years old and was abused decades ago as a child had no way to take action before the Child Victims Act, as there were several limitations on how long a victim had to press criminal charges against an abuser or file a civil suit.
The CVA will expire in August of 2020, meaning there is still a limited window for sexual abuse victims to file a suit.
Child Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse is any unwanted touching, activity, or advances that are non-consensual and sexual. This can be both physical or verbal and can come in the form of a single incident or ongoing abuse. Children are emotionally vulnerable and not developmentally capable of giving consent.
The age of consent in New York is 17 years old, according to New York Penal Code Section 130.25. This means that any sexual activity between a person older than 21 with a minor under 17 is non-consensual, and considered statutory rape. Child sexual abuse is a serious crime that affects more people than you might suspect.
Effects of Sexual Abuse on Children
The effects of child sexual abuse can be devastating in physical and emotional ways. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), some of the physical and mental effects of child sexual abuse include:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Physical injuries
- Unwanted pregnancy
- Loss of Trust
- Suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide
- Substance abuse
- Personality changes
- Social withdrawal
- Sexually transmitted diseases
While some victims can recover after sexual abuse, others are scarred for life. The ongoing implications of being sexually abused can be crippling in several ways. Sadly, thousands of Americans and others around the world become sexual abuse victims every year.
Statistics of Children Sexually Abused
The CDC collected data in 2015 that includes alarming statistics for child sexual abuse.
- 25% of girls will experience a form of sexual abuse during their childhood.
- Approximately 8% of boys will be sexually abused in some form during childhood.
- Medical expenses and the tax on the healthcare system for sexual abuse-related cases cost an estimated $9.3 billion in 2015.
- Victims of sexual abuse in childhood are more likely to try or abuse alcohol and illicit drugs.
Not only are victims left to deal with the physical and mental repercussions in the aftermath of abuse, but they often require expensive and time-consuming medical treatment and therapy. The financial burden of ongoing healthcare can create debt and other difficulties.
Some victims choose to take legal action against sexual abusers to recuperate expenses or collect compensation for suffering and other damages. Due to the CVA, victims of sexual abuse can bring a civil suit against sexual abusers regardless of when the incident took place.
What You Can Do if You or a Loved One Was Sexually Abused
First and foremost, you should address any immediate medical needs and ensure the victim is safe and away from a potential abuser. You should also report the incident to authorities.
In the longer term, it could be beneficial to seek guidance from a medical professional about the mental and emotional well-being of the victim. In many cases, victims of sexual abuse will need counseling, therapy, or support during this difficult time.
You can also explore your legal options to see if there is any financial compensation available for the sexually abused victim based on their case. Even if the abuse occurred a long time ago, the Child Victims Act offers a window for legal action in New York.
How You Can Get Legal Help From a Sexual Abuse Lawyer
Regardless of when the child sexual abuse may have occurred, under the Child Victims Act, you can file a civil claim. Remember that the CVA currently expires in August 2020, so taking action in a timely manner will ensure your case is valid under this act. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm is available to discuss your case and review your legal options. Call (800) 794-0444 to speak with a sex abuse lawyer to learn more about what you can do next. Now is your chance for justice.