All survivors deserve the opportunity to be heard.
It is not your fault. You are not to blame. You have nothing to be ashamed of.
We are here for you.
The Adult Survivors Act recognizes that it takes time for victims of sexual abuse to process their trauma; to be able to speak about their trauma, and to be able to confront their abusers and those who enabled them.
Watch this video for the answers to your questions about the Adult Survivors Act:
Sexual violence and abuse are traumatizing at any age and can have devastating and long-term effects on survivors. The emotional and psychological impact of this type of abuse can permeate a survivor’s relationships, work, and other important aspects of their lives. For adult survivors of sexual abuse, processing sexual trauma can be complex. Every survivor is unique, and there is no definite timeline that will apply in all situations. Depending on the person, it may take several months or years before they can recognize and acknowledge the abuse. Even then, some adult survivors of sexual abuse need time to come forward and take steps to hold their abusers accountable.
Why Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse Wait to Disclose
Adult survivors of sexual abuse sometimes wait to disclose the abuse they have endured. The reasons may vary. However, many individuals who are sexually victimized in adulthood have been socialized to blame themselves for the abuse. Adult survivors may also be reluctant to come forward because they fear how others will perceive and treat them. Adult survivors of sexual abuse may also be afraid of their abuser. They also may not be ready to acknowledge that they were sexually abused. These and other trauma-based responses are common when an adult has endured sexual abuse and can delay and inhibit a survivor’s ability to report abuse.
Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse and the Healing Process
Recovering from sexual abuse trauma can be painful and difficult. However, for some adult survivors of sexual abuse, pursuing a claim against those responsible can be an important part of the healing process. It can also help provide the closure they need to move on with their lives.
Until recently, New York’s sexual abuse statutes had short statutes of limitations that failed to account for the ways in which survivors process trauma. Consequently, many adult survivors of sexual abuse have been prevented from holding their abusers accountable. However, in 2019, New York passed laws extending the statute of limitations for rape and other sexual abuse offenses. That same year, state lawmakers passed the Child Victims Act (CVA), extending the statute of limitations for cases involving childhood sexual abuse. The CVA also contained a lookback period that allowed these survivors to seek justice even decades after they were abused. Unfortunately, the law’s lookback period did not include crimes committed against adult survivors of sexual abuse.
The Adult Survivors Act
In May of 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Adult Survivors Act (ASA) into law, making it possible for adult survivors of sexual abuse to file their claims regardless of when their abuse occurred.
Like the CVA, the ASA will provide adult survivors with a lookback period during which they can bring previously time-barred claims against their abusers and those institutions that enabled their abuse. The Adult Survivors Act’s one-year window will begin on November 24, 2022, and is scheduled to close on November 23, 2023.
Crimes Covered by the Adult Survivors Act
Since the passing of the Adult Survivors Act, some survivors have had questions about what constitutes an offense covered by the act. The Adult Survivors Act allows victims of sexual offenses defined in Article 130 of the New York penal code and victims of incest to file a civil suit for money damages, pain, and suffering.
The legal definition of sexual assault covers a broad range of adult sexual abuse offenses and includes but is not limited to the following:
- Engaging in sexual intercourse, oral sexual conduct, or anal sexual conduct with another person without their consent.
- Administering a prescription substance to sexually assault someone. This practice often involves a sedative such as Rohypnol or “roofies” being given to a victim without their knowledge.
- Engaging in sexual intercourse with another person who is incapable of consent. This includes sexual intercourse or sexual contact when a victim is unconscious or for any other reason is physically unable to consent to an act.
- Squeezing, grabbing, pinching, or touching another person’s sexual or other intimate parts to degrade or abuse the victim or gratify the offender’s sexual desire.
- This includes subjecting another person to sexual contact without their consent; sexual contact includes touching of the offender by the victim, as well as the touching of the victim by the offender, whether directly or through clothing.
- Ejaculating on any part of a victim, clothed or unclothed, without their consent.
Subjecting another person to sexual contact by forcible compulsion means compelling someone either by physical force or threats.
- Inserting an object or finger in the vagina, urethra, penis, rectum, or anus of another person when they do not consent or are incapable of consent.
- Committing rape or another criminal sexual act against a person the offender knows to be related to them (incest).
Adult Survivors Can Sue Responsible Entities
If an entity enabled or empowered abusers, they should be held responsible. The ASA allows survivors to pursue action against the individual who committed the harm and any entity that enabled the abuse through what they did or failed to do. These claims may include an employer who knew of the abuser’s conduct and did not address the issue. The ASA is not limited to employers as potential defendants, however. Colleges, universities, fraternities, government entities, hospitals, and other companies that enable an abuser’s actions are also potential defendants.
Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse Can Pursue Legal Action
With the passage of the Adult Survivors Act and the extension of the statutes of limitations for several sexual abuse crimes, survivors can pursue claims against those responsible for their harm. Giving adult survivors of sexual abuse the power to hold abusers and responsible institutions accountable is the main purpose of the Adult Survivor’s Act.
If you were sexually assaulted when you were eighteen or older, you may have a claim against your offender or an institution that enabled them to assault you. If you believe you have a sexual abuse claim in New York, you should contact an experienced sexual abuse injury attorney to discuss your case.
The Sexual Abuse Injury Attorney of Bonina & Bonina, P.C. Are Here to Help
For an adult survivor, the impact and consequences of sexual violence can last a lifetime. If you have been sexually assaulted or abused, you should be able to hold those responsible accountable and the Adult Survivors Act gives you the ability to seek justice. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we are experienced sexual abuse injury attorneys who understand the trauma survivors can experience and are here to help.
If you’ve been the victim of rape, sexual abuse, or other sexual violence, you want an experienced and compassionate sexual abuse injury attorney on your side. Bonina & Bonina, P.C. understand the importance of helping sexual violence survivors get the help they need for their trauma. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se Habla Español.