VIP advocates traveled to Harrisburg, PA to take part in a rally regarding statute of Limitations reform, HB 951. It was energizing to be with people in person again who have the same passion as the VIP advocates. The sad part is that any of us had to even be there. This should have been accomplished already. We will not stand for survivors being silenced or not getting their chance at justice. VIP supports HB 951 and joined many others in sharing that support.
This bill would establish a one-time, retroactive window allowing adult victims of child sexual abuse to seek civil remedies for the harm inflicted upon them when they were children, even if their claims are time-barred by the statute of limitations. The window created in HB 951 would be enacted through statute.
This bill needs to move to a vote. Period.
Read the speech Michele Minor Wolf, M.A. – Executive Director of VIP made at the rally below:
Many of the victims and survivors my agency has worked with have come to us later in life, seeking services for the first time in their life, even though the sexual abuse happened in their childhood years. This is normal. It can take years before a victim of child sexual abuse speaks about it – to anyone, let alone reach out for help. Disclosing child sexual abuse, at any age, takes a lot of courage.
Some survivors coming forward for the first time have questions about seeking justice, only to find out that the statute of limitations has passed. After getting the courage to reach out, they are told, sorry but you are too late. This can be devastating and re-traumatizing.
Trauma caused by child sexual abuse can require decades of healing before an individual is ready for the emotional and psychological stress of a lawsuit. That does not make victims any less deserving of their day in court. It also doesn’t make individuals who sexually abuse children or their institutions any less culpable for the deep pain and suffering they have caused.
It is time we provided a pathway to justice for current adult victims of these heinous crimes.
The legislature has already demonstrated that the previous statute of limitations for child sexual abuse was impractical and unjust.
PCAR believes a two-year retroactive window for adult victims of child sexual abuse is essential to the healing process of individuals, families and communities. We also believe that these lawsuits will identify and hold accountable dangerous individuals and complicit institutions, preventing future victimization of our children. Isn’t that what most survivors want? To prevent what happened to them from happening to someone else? Isn’t that what we all want?
PCAR advocates for a dual path to achieving this window. We support both statutory reform and a constitutional amendment that would create this two-year retroactive period. We hope to grant victims access to justice as quickly as possible.
To the survivors here today, we believe you and we believe in you. We stand with you. There are so many of us, all over the Commonwealth, who will continue to fight for you and with you. We are not giving up and we hope you don’t either.