It can be hard for those who experience some kind of sexual violence to secure justice. Adults who have been victims of sexual assault may have a hard time coming forward for any number of reasons, especially if the person who abused them is in a position of authority. Shame and possibly threats may help to ensure their silence, at least for a time.
By the time a survivor of such heinous misconduct realizes the profound impact of their experience and that what happened was likely a violation of their rights, it is often too late for them to demand justice. Both the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution and the standard statute of limitations for personal injury claims will often have expired long before a survivor feels empowered to demand action.
By the time someone has healed enough to speak out, they may no longer have any means of securing support from the courts. Thankfully, New York has provided a short-term opportunity for adult survivors to take action over abuse as adults in the form of the Adult Survivors Act. There are two very compelling reasons for someone to pursue a claim per the opportunities afforded by this law.
They can obtain justice
The sexual misconduct of one adult toward another adult can affect their mental health and interpersonal relationships, often for the rest of their lives. Especially if the offender somehow escaped criminal responsibility for their actions, people often only have the option of asking the civil courts for justice.
Having a judge or jury side on behalf of a plaintiff can be a profound experience that gives someone previously denied justice a sense of closure. Any compensation awarded to them can help offset the numerous personal losses the survivor will have incurred in the years since the abuse.
They can protect other vulnerable people
One person pursuing a claim under the Adult Survivors Act could lead to more people speaking up against the same perpetrator. Even if no one else brings a claim against the same individual, successful plaintiffs will have potentially warned members of the public about the true conduct of the defendant and may help people protect themselves or their vulnerable family members from that dangerous individual.
The opportunity to seek justice under this limited-time program is only available through late November 2023. Making use of the opportunities afforded by the Adult Survivors Act before it expires can help those who want to pursue justice for previous abuse even if they no longer have any other opportunity to demand recourse.