Safe Horizon and Lt. Gov. Hochul Launch Major PSA Campaign for Child Victims Act in Times Sq.
On 8/14/19 survivors of childhood sexual > 23 have 1 year to sue in civil court
NEW YORK (08/13/2019) (readMedia)-- On August 13th, Safe Horizon - the largest victims service organization in the country - unveiled a wide ranging public awareness campaign in Times Square to educate adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse about their rights under the newly enacted Child Victims Act. The launch debuted a video and a PSA campaign featuring survivors, including New York State lawmakers: Senator Alessandra Biaggi, Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, and Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte.
Clear Channel has generously donated digital billboard space.
The PSA is part of a multi-platform public awareness campaign including digital ad buys on Facebook and Youtube, as well as placement on movie screens before previews, beginning in November. Stills from the State Legislators and Brian Toale, survivor, will rotate on Clear Channel's Times Square Screens. Safe Horizon will announce more partnerships and platforms in the coming weeks and months.
Safe Horizon has launched a comprehensive website on the new law that answers frequently asked questions and provides guidance for survivors seeking legal assistance. The website is a necessary and trusted resource for survivors. Since the Child Victims Act passed in January, lawyers have been buying up google ads aimed directly at soliciting business from survivors and sometimes misconstruing their rights under the law. These lawyers don't always specialize in this kind of law and the website provides guidelines to help survivors choose the right representation.
Studies show that ¼ girls and ? boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. Safe Horizon worked for years to pass the Child Victims Act and extend the previously punitive statute of limitations in New York. The Child Victims Act extends the statute of limitations from 23 years to 25 for misdemeanors, 28 for felonies and 55 for civil cases. Critically, the Child Victims Act created a one year window to allow survivors who were already 23 years of age or older when the bill was signed, a chance to find justice in the courts. Survivors can file a civil case against their abusers and any institutions that may have enabled the abuse, no matter how old they are or how long ago the abuse happened. The window opens August 14th, 2019 closes on August 13th, 2020. Survivors who were 23 or older on the day the bill was signed (February 14th, 2019) must take advantage of the window if they want to seek justice in the courts.
"The Child Victims Act and the opening of its lookback window provides a monumental win for survivors of childhood sexual abuse who now have the opportunity to seek justice in their own way," said Ariel Zwang, CEO of Safe Horizon. "We want survivors to know their options and are proud to help them determine what is best for them."
"This is an important day for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Today our voices will be heard. People can now come forward to hold predators and organizations that harbor them accountable. I applaud the State Assembly, Senate and Governor Cuomo for making this possible. New York and New Yorkers have taken a major step toward better protecting children from abuse. There is more to do, but this is an important moment in time and I am grateful to everyone who worked so tirelessly to make it happen," said Bridie Farrell, Survivor and Advocate.
"There are many reasons for survivors to feel hopeful today. In the past, we had no collective voice. We fought isolated, often secret battles with the powerful and influential. Today we are a chorus of thousands of voices and are listened to when we speak our truth. And, because the powerful have overplayed their hand far too many times, we are also being believed," said Survivor Brian Toale. "If like I did, you believe there is something wrong with you deep down that needs to be fixed, and wish you could stop disappointing yourself and others, you are not alone. If you are a survivor still living with this toxic burden on your own, please reach out to someone you trust. Remember, "We are only as sick as our secrets!" There are organizations like Safe Horizon and SNAP, where you can get support."
"At a time when more Americans are receiving support and coming forward to tell their stories of survival, the Child Victims Act provides hope for those who have suffered for far too long," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who spoke at today's event. "I am thankful for Safe Horizon and the many advocates who never gave up as we continued our efforts to enact much needed reforms. The Child Victims Act will help New Yorkers seek the justice they have been denied. The lookback window is an important opportunity for survivors across our state to seize the moment and hold abusers accountable." ?
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "The passage of the Child Victims Act was a long and tough fight for the survivors and advocates. The start of the one-year window will help survivors seek justice that has been denied for far too long. I applaud Senator Brad Hoylman who has been a leader in the fight to pass the Child Victims Act and to ensure the look-back window was included in the final legislation. The Senate Democratic Majority was proud to work with our Assembly colleagues and the incredible survivors whose advocacy helped ensure this important legislation finally passed into law. Groups like Safe Horizons were essential in this fight, and we will continue to stand with them and the survivors of child sex abuse as they seek justice."
"Tomorrow we open the door to seeking justice for the many survivors of childhood sexual abuse who thought they had lost their chance. As a survivor myself, I am personally very grateful for the dedication of Safe Horizon and my fellow lawmakers for ensuring that with the passage of the Child Victims Act, New Yorkers who have already aged out of the statute of limitations will still be given an opportunity to bring their case to court. This is a major step towards ending a culture of silence and building a new set of rules that is trauma-informed and puts survivors first," said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx/Westchester).
"Tomorrow marks the first day of the year-long look back period under the Child Victims Act. Survivors of child sexual abuse will be able to bring cases against their abusers, regardless of how long it has been since the incident occurred. While the look back period is only a portion of how the Child Victim Acts changes the way New York prosecutes child sexual abuse, it is the first important step to provide survivors with the opportunity for justice. I want to thank all the advocates for their tireless work in supporting the Child Victims Act and the brave survivors who shared their stories time and time again. The Child Victims Act sends a clear message that our government is listening and that we will continue to listen as we forge more paths to justice," said Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou.
"I am grateful to have played a significant role in helping to usher this legislation through that extends the criminal statutes of limitations for Child Sex Abuse", says Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte. "As a Victim of Child Sex Abuse, I hope that this legislation can possibly extend some form of peace, closure or retribution to my fellow victims."
"It was so important for me to be part of Safe Horizon's PSA and the entire awareness campaign for the Child Victims Act. I personally know and understand the fear and shame associated with coming forward, and there are so many survivors who don't come forward because they are alone and terrified of the repercussions. If this campaign encourages at least one person to seek help or speak out about their abuse and seek help it will have been worth it. I am so thankful for organizations like Safe Horizon for their ongoing support and advocacy for survivors, and their proactive outreach and education on the Child Victims Act," said Assemblymember Catalina Cruz.
"Jeffrey Epstein's death in prison deprives his victims of the opportunity to confront him in a court of law. While there is nothing that we can do now to make him accountable, we can provide his victims and all survivors of childhood sexual assault in New York with the opportunity to revive old civil cases that have been barred by the statute of limitations. Tomorrow, August 14, 2019, the Child Victims Act opens a one-year lookback window, and with it, the doors to justice. For years, abusers like Epstein who have been able to hide behind New York's weak laws will be revealed, and justice can finally be served," said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, sponsor of New York's Child Victims Act (CVA) in the New York State Assembly.
"As the past week's events concerning Jeffrey Epstein have made tragically clear, survivors of child sexual abuse have for years been shut out of the justice system due to New York's formerly inadequate statute of limitations?-?and far too often, have been denied the opportunity to confront their abusers in court. Republicans in the State Senate blocked our efforts to pass the Child Victims Act for a decade. But thanks to our new Democratic Senate Majority and the leadership of Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Governor Cuomo, and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, the courthouse doors have opened. We are finally telling survivors: the State of New York and the full force of its law is behind you, and you will not be turned away. The Child Victims Act will allow survivors to seek justice, expose hidden predators and hold them accountable along with those who may have enabled their abuse. As we will see in the coming days and weeks with the help of this new public awareness campaign, survivors will come from every corner of the state. from every gender identity, every race, every socioeconomic class, every kind of institution. When similar legislation was passed in California in 2003, over 300 sexual abusers were identified through litigation. I thank Safe Horizon, my colleagues in the Legislature, and all of the advocates and survivors who fought to see this day become reality," said State Senator Brad Hoylman, sponsor of New York's Child Victims Act (CVA) in the New York State Senate.