UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV)– There has been a renewed push for the Adult Survivors Act in Albany, with sponsors of the bill hoping to get it passed before the end of the legislative session in June.
The bill, which is based on the Child Victims Act, would create a special one-year look-back window to allow individuals who were 18 or older when they were sexually assaulted in New York State to file a lawsuit against the person who harmed them and/or the negligent institution.
“While we deem someone at the age of 18 to be an adult I’m not sure if that works when we’re talking about these horrific situations,” Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon said. “So this legislation would give the year for an individual to come forward vs the statute of limitations in the past that the person would have to come forward within that three to six-year period.”
The legislation focuses on sexual assault and harassment. New York State defines sexual assault as any act of violence either physical or verbal in which sex is used as a weapon. At its most basic level, sexual assault refers to any form of nonconsensual sexual activity which encompasses all unwanted sexual acts from intimidation to touching to penetration. Sexual assault is an act of aggression designed to humiliate, intimidate, control or instill fear.
“Its emotional for a woman and there are so many reasons why we don’t report it or why it takes us so long to come forward and one of the main reasons is that society has built into the victim-blaming game and it seems to always be the females fault,” Dianne Stancato Chief Executive Officer at YWCA Mohawk Valley explained. “So you were at the wrong place at the wrong time, you had on the wrong outfit, your skirt was too short, you had too much to drink, you’re not hanging out with the right people.”
The argument for the bill is that people who experience abuse are traumatized by their experience and it often takes them years if not decades to come to terms with what happened to them. The legislation has been in committee since January, and the sponsors for the bill continue to push to get it to the floor for a vote.
If the bill is passed by the legislature it would go to Governor Andrew Cuomo which may create a bit of an awkward situation as the governor stands accused by numerous women of sexual assault I reached out to his office for a comment and did not hear back.