Victims Still Healing From Child Sex Abuse Scars Could Soon Find Justice
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- A proposal which would waive the statute of limitations on prosecutions of people who've abused children, and allow victims to sue abusers up to 50 years after the attack took place, is long overdue, say advocates for victims of child sexual abuse, like Jill Knittle.
Knittle was abused for six years as a child, until she was 13. She didn't tell friends until she was in her 20s, and didnt talk openly about it until her 40s. That's often the case, as victims struggle internally every day.
"It's definitely a grieving process, because you lost your childhood way too early," Knittle said.
"What we really know about sex abuse is one in 10 children, by the time they turn 18, will suffer from some form of sexual abuse, but less than one in 10 report it as a child," said Mary Whittier, executive director of Bivona Child Advocacy Center.
The statute of limitations currently runs out five years after a child sex abuse victim turns 18, but a proposal from Gov. Andrew Cuomo would open that up.
"I think it would be validating and in many ways therapeutic for folks living with this who for folks who wanted to do something about this and now could," Whittier said.
"If the law is behind the victim rather than the perpetrator, that's the first step to give justice to the victims," said Knittel
Knittel, who sits on the board of directors at Bivona, believes there could be some pushback over the governor's proposal, mainly in the lawsuits which could follow.
"It's not about the civil piece of it to victims, it's about the justice."
Justice, which to date has been hard to come by for many victims of child sexual abuse.
"So to not be able to talk about it and not have a timeline and let that person get through the trauma they've experienced and stand up for themselves, that's what this law will do."