The victims' advocacy group Safe Horizon is sponsoring public service announcements featuring four New York state lawmakers who were victims of abuse themselves.
"When you are sexually abused as a child, it can years or even decades to process what happened," Yuh-Line Niou, a Democrat who represents parts of Manhattan in the state Assembly, said in one of the public service announcements in Times Square.
On Tuesday, those lawmakers unveiled their campaign and shared their own harrowing stories of abuse.
"I am survivor who was sexually abused at the age of 10 by a pastor," said Rodneyse Bichotte, a Democrat who represents parts of Brooklyn in the state Assembly. "Now there is a path for retribution. I am in support of spreading the word so that all survivors can learn of their rights and options."
Passed earlier this year and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Child Victims Act creates a one-year window for victims to file suit against their abusers, even if the statute of limitations has expired.
"Starting tomorrow, given Gov. Cuomo's signature of the law, 1,200 clients of ours will begin filing lawsuits across the state of New York," attorney Jonathan Sedgh said.
The Child Victims Act finally passed this year after being blocked for more than a decade by state Senate Republicans, who are no longer in control.
"Powerful institutions such as the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, some Jewish organizations, did not want to be embarrassed, did not want to be revealed what they had protected," said Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat who represents parts of Manhattan in the state Assembly.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Catholic Conference, representing the Catholic Church, acknowledged that they had some objections to the bill in the past, including a retroactive window for decades-old claims, but they now fully support the new law, although some in the church have expressed concerns about the potential financial impact.
And while the look back window opens Wednesday, the law also makes some permanent changes. For example, previously, a victim of childhood sexual abuse had only until age 23 to file suit against institutions allegedly responsible for that abuse. Now the age will go up to 55 years old, since many victims don't even come to terms with their own trauma until much later, and often through extensive therapy.
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