I didn’t realize that ten minutes could change someone’s life permanently.
I didn’t realize the harm that could be caused by someone who abuses a child.
I didn’t realize that the person who I had come to befriend had battled with suicidal thoughts and attempts for my whole lifetime.
I didn’t realize that when I first went up to Albany to advocate for the Child Victim’s Act, that I would see the world and certainly people differently.
I didn’t realize how long, deep, and permanent the damage is of children who have been abused.
I didn’t realize the extent of the problem.
I didn’t realize that it was systemic.
I didn’t realize how many communities and organizations have allowed this to happen.
I didn’t realize that most children have no idea that they are being abused nor that they had been abused until age 40.
I didn’t realize that New York State only allows until age 23 for a young adolescent to prosecute their aggressor.
I didn’t realize how uncomfortable it makes people to talk about abuse.
I didn’t realize.
But now I do.
New York State is one of the two states with the worst laws for children who have been sexually abused. Currently, individuals have until age 23 to file a claim against their abuser. The Child Victim’s Act would extend the statue to age 28 in criminal cases and age 50 in civil ones. But the bill has been stalled from coming to a vote on the New York Senate floor for more than a decade.
We are not protecting these victims.
This year, Governor Cuomo has made his support known to all. The State Assembly passed the CVA. The last hurdle was the state senate.
What stands in the way? According to what I’ve gathered from Assembly people and their staff on multiple trips to Albany this year, it is the Religious Right. Our own.
Large institutions on the Religious Right fear the number of claims that would be filed against them by adults who were abused as children if the statue were to be extended to age 28 or 50. These institutions have silently (or, not so silently) put pressure on the senate to prevent the bill from coming to a vote.
If you didn’t realize, now you do. It takes a village to enable child sex abuse.
Please do not stand by silently. Contact your New York State Senate representative and urge them to bring the Child Victim’s Act to a vote during the senate’s next session.
Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, PhD is the Executive Director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance.