Support the Child Victim’s Act!

 

Ask your State Senator and State Representative to sign on as a sponsor to the Child Victim’s Act.  This legislation, introduced by State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) and State Representative Sandy Pasch (D-Whitefish Bay) would protect victims of sexual abuse by removing the civil statute of limitations in sex assault and rape cases involving children.  This bill is modeled after successful laws in several states that now hold offenders accountable for sexually assaulting children regardless of when those crimes were perpetrated.

NASW WI Executive Director Marc Herstand and student intern Rachel Fleming spoke at a press conference at the State Capitol on November 22nd in support of this bill.  Marc Herstand’s statement on behalf of this bill follows:

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SOCIAL WORKERS, WISCONSIN CHAPTER STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF THE CHILD VICTIM’S ACT  PRESENTED ON NOVEMBER 22, 2011 BY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR MARC HERSTAND

Depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, fear, sexual dysfunction, denial, selective memory, post traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, suicide, substance abuse problems and anxiety disorders.  These are all problems faced by victims of child sexual abuse that can have lifetime repercussions.

Because of these problems survivors may not report the assault for a very long time.  They may suppress the memory of the experience.   They may not be willing to take action against the perpetrator until years or even decades after the incident or incidents occurred. 1,2,3

In fact according to the 2005 National Crime Victimization Survey, more than 60% of sexual assaults are never reported to law enforcement.

Part of the healing from childhood sexual assault can be achieved by bringing the perpetrator to justice.  By eliminating the statute of limitations for civil causes of action and by creating a two year “window” some victims who have never had a chance to bring action against their perpetrator can do so and at least partially repair the terrible psychological damage that occurred.

In addition this bill could result in identifying and punishing pedophiles who have never before been prosecuted. In California 300 previously unidentified pedophiles were identified as a result of a similar law as were 170 previously unidentified pedophiles in Delaware.  The identification of these pedophiles may have prevented the sexual abuse of hundreds of children in those states.4  A Child Victim’s Act could have a similar impact in Wisconsin in protecting scores of children from sexual abuse.4,5

The National Association of Social Workers, Wisconsin Chapter urges the Wisconsin Legislature to pass the Child Victim’s Act.

1. http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbName=Documentview

2. http://www.apa.org/releases/sexabuse/effects.html

3. www.health.columbia.edu/pdfs/dynamics_sexual_assault

 

4. http://writ.news.findlaw.com/hamilton/20090611.html

 

5. Testimony in Favor of AB 453, “The Child Victim’s Act”, presented by State Representative Joe Parisi to the Assembly Committee on Children and Families on October 21, 2009