By Lauren Ritirato, Staff Writer
The Adult Survivors Act was implemented for one year in New York State and recently closed on Nov. 24, 2023. This law allowed individuals to file lawsuits for various types of sexual assault cases that were past the statute of limitations. Over 3,000 cases have been filed within this past year against state penitentiary staff, celebrities and politicians. This wave of lawsuits sent a shock through the news because of this negative exposure of well-loved famous figures. Among celebrities such as Steven Tyler, Jamie Foxx and Russell Brand are two New York State politicians: Ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and current New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
Within this year there has been a large influx of individuals filing these lawsuits. This “lookback window” allowed for victims to file civil sexual abuse cases past their statute of limitations. This law has brought for a resurgence of sexual abuse cases which were exposed by the Me Too Movement and now a new wave of horrifying cases.
“The statute of limitations is something that a lot of people don’t actually really know about when it comes to abuse,” senior social work major Beck Farrell said. “There’s like a ticking time bomb to it almost where you can only do so much and some people don’t realize the extent of their trauma until it is too late.”
Social justice movements have become more popular, like Me Too, and destigmatizing sexual abuse trauma has become a priority for many advocates.
“I think there’s been an influx in the sense that more people feel safe and okay to come out about the abuse that they have faced because that is a scary thing to come out and say,” sophomore broadcast journalism major Gilliana Taylor said.
Many New York residents are left to wonder where we must go from here.
“Believe survivors and take away the stigma that it’s their fault,” Taylor said. “It’s so hard to come to terms with the fact that you were abused and you did face that adversity and you do tend to blame yourself.”
Many New York residents are appalled by the actions of ex-Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Adams. Farrell contends that the era of using fear to keep victims quiet is over and that the Adult Survivors Act was an opportunity to prove this.
“Eric Adams is someone who has been very well known to use his power to marginalize, and to isolate people–just look at everything he’s done to the homeless community in Manhattan,” Farrell said. “I mean, this man cares about saving face so it doesn’t surprise me that people are coming forward and he’s angry.”
Other students feel similarly.
“This is sadly not shocking because I feel that as sad as it is, people in power think that for all this time they have the right to act this way because they’re people in power and that no one is going to find out, and then when it does happen it’s unclear like ‘now what,’” sophomore musical theater major Franklin Ferer said.
LIU students stand with the courageous survivors that have been brave enough to take this rare year-long opportunity to stand up for themselves after the statute of limitations had previously closed for these victims.
“It’s a very scary thing to come out and come to terms with that and you should know that there’s a whole village of people behind you that believe you and will hear your story,” Taylor said.