The passage of the Child Victims Act has put the plight of childhood sexual abuse victims in the forefront of many New Yorkers’ minds. The Act extends the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse survivors to seek justice against their attackers, which is very important given the fact that many survivors don’t come forward with stories of their abuse until it is too late. According to theNational Center for Victims of Crime, it is difficult to determine the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse because it often goes unreported. However, it is estimated that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys have been the victim of sexual abuse. Some children do report their abuse, but many do not, and there are a number of factors that contribute to why survivors wait to come forward.
Guilt and Shame
The younger they are and the closer to the abuser a victim is, the more likely they are to feel some sense of blame for what happened to them. Coming forward with something as deeply personal as sexual abuse can be a struggle. No matter how many times a victim is told that the abuse is not their fault, there’s a good chance they may blame themselves in some way for either being submissive to their attacker, “enticing” the abuse, or not telling anyone what was happening.
Fear of Retaliation
Many perpetrators threaten a victim that if he or she reports the abuse, they will hurt them or their families in some way. When a child victim is still under the influence of the abuser, this can be a powerful threat. It can take some time for the survivor to be away from the abuser in order for them to realize that these threats are not real.
Loyalty to family and individuals in positions of power over the survivor can be extremely powerful. Many sexual abusers are in a position of trust or responsibility for caring for the survivor in some way. A desire not to betray the attacker by reporting the abuse for fear of harming the relationship seems to make no sense, but when you take into account the power these individuals have over a victim, it is easy to see why someone would keep a secret.
Many victims of sexual abuse dissociate during the events and can have trouble recovering the memories. Memories of abuse can be triggered by other incidents in a person’s life or by other victims who have come forward. Therapy sessions and other experiences can also bring memories to light.
Contact a Trusted and Experienced Attorney
If you have been the victim of sexual abuse and have waited to come forward, it is important that you consult with an experienced and trusted attorney as soon as possible. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have over 50 years of experience helping injured New Yorkers, and we want to help you. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Se habla español.