New York law recognizes how hard it is for child victims of sexual abuse to report their abusers. This is why the Child Victims Act (CVA) gives victims an opportunity to confront those who hurt them and the institutions that failed to protect them.
A greater understanding of the trauma victims suffer and the obstacles they face in coming forward has spurred New York and other states to extend their statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse. This is coupled with more and more victims coming forward across the country with claims of abuse aimed at members of the Catholic clergy. In 2019 alone, victims made more than 44,000 allegations, according to the Washington Post.
If a clergy member sexually abused you, you can seek damages for your suffering. A Mount Vernon clergy abuse lawyer with Pintas & Mullins Law Firm might be able to help you file your claims under the CVA. To learn more, call our team today at (800) 219-9622 for a free consultation.
The CVA Extends the Statute of Limitations and Allows a “Lookback Window”
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the CVA into law in 2019. One of the legislation’s most important provisions is a change in the amount of time a victim has to bring civil charges against their abuser and/or a third party, such as an organization or church.
According to the New York City (NYC) Bar, victims now have until their 55th birthday to take action for sexual abuse suffered before they were 18 years old. Previously, the statute of limitations mandated that victims bring their claims within five years of their 18th birthday.
In addition to this permanent extension, the CVA gives victims a “lookback window” of two years to file legal actions. Initially, the law granted only a single year, but it was recently extended to Aug. 14, 2021. During the window, victims can file suit against their abuser, no matter their current age or how many years ago the abuse occurred. This means victims previously barred by the statute of limitations can now have their day in court.
More than 3,000 victims have already come forward under the new law, according to a release from the Governor’s Press Office published on New York State’s website. If you would like to take advantage of the lookback window or the expanded statute of limitations to file your case, call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today to reach out to a Mount Vernon clergy abuse lawyer to get started. We can offer legal counsel during a free consultation.
Changes to the Law Reflect the Difficulty Victims Have Coming Forward
The CVA acknowledges how hard it is for victims of child sexual abuse to come forward. Often, victims may not process their experiences or find the courage to talk about their abuse for years. Before the statute of limitations changes, a victim’s time frame for seeking justice was often closed before they had time to recognize their trauma and decide to take action.
As children, victims may have limited ability to recognize sexual abuse or communicate what is happening to a safe adult. They may fear their abuser or be intimidated into silence by threats of violence toward them or a loved one. They may blame themselves or want to keep their abuser out of trouble, particularly if the one causing them harm is someone close to them, like a church leader.
Once victims reach adulthood, their memories of what they suffered may be less clear. They may question what they experienced or block out the memories of their abuse as a means of protection. This is known as dissociation and/or denial, according to Psychology Today. Victims often have feelings of fear, shame, and self-blame that make telling others about their abuse difficult.
If you have been keeping your abuse a secret, you can find help. You can work on healing with support and mental health services. For resources about sexual abuse and finding a counselor to connect with, visit the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).
For a free legal consultation with a Clergy Abuse Lawyer serving Mount Vernon, call (800) 794-0444
Working with a Mount Vernon Clergy Abuse Lawyer
A monetary settlement cannot erase the abuse you have suffered, but it can pay for treatments you need to heal. Compensation can also provide you with a measure of justice for the harm you have endured.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), victims of sexual abuse often suffer short- and long-term consequences, including:
- Suicidal thoughts and actions
- Chronic health conditions
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Risky sexual behavior
- Physical injuries
Issues related to child sexual abuse can make it difficult for victims to hold down a job or build meaningful relationships. They are also much more likely to be sexually revictimized or suffer physical violence at an intimate partner’s hands.
None of these negative outcomes are the fault of the innocent victim. The person who hurt you committed a horrendous crime and left you with a lifetime of repercussions that have harmed you physically, emotionally, and financially.
A lawyer can help you fight for awards for your medical costs, mental health services, pain and suffering, and more. Your abuser should be held responsible for what they have done, and the church should be accountable for not protecting you from its clergy members.
Our Team Will Stand by Your Side
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, we know how this is a challenging time for you and your family. We cannot right the wrongs of the past, but we can work to help you win compensation to provide for your future. You can seek justice, find healing, and move forward.
A Mount Vernon clergy abuse lawyer can handle your case on contingency. This payment arrangement can ease your financial burden because you do not pay unless we win a settlement in your favor. We want to help you with your case without adding to your stress. To find out more about how our team can help, call us at (800) 219-9622 for a free consultation.