By Thomas Travers
Childhood sexual abuse is a systemic problem in our society. It is in our homes, schools, institutions and clubs. It destroys lives. It takes an abuser moments to inflict trauma and victims a life time to heal. Most survivors of child sexual abuse live in a sea of emotional, mental and spiritual confusion.
Imagine a boat. At its helm, a pedophile searching for the next victim, justifying their actions. Beside them sit enablers; trusted organizations glossing over complex and uncomfortable issues, individuals who know better but remain silent, and a society uneducated on the lifelong negative impacts sexual abuse has on children.
Behind the boat, in the turmoil of its propeller, floats countless suicides, individuals trapped in addiction, and those paralyzed by post-traumatic stress disorder. Most of us spend our lives treading water with the boat still in sight. We struggle with suicidal thoughts, depression and a deep sense internal disconnect.
If we’re lucky, we find something grab onto. With our heads above water we peel away layers of confusion, shame, guilt and anger. We slowly realize we are not to blame, we were not active participants in our abuse, and we must face the many personal issues that have plagued our lives. Only then can begin healing and mourn for ourselves and the child inside. Once again we pick ourselves up and begin rebuilding our lives. This takes time. For me, decades.
The Child Victims Act, which has failed to gain state Senate Republican support for over a decade, addresses the reality of childhood sexual abuse head on. It extends civil statute of limitations to age 50 and criminal to age 28, giving victims time to come to terms with their abuse. It opens a one-year window, allowing a legal pathway to justice for victims for whom the current statute of limitations has expired. Through the legal tool of discovery, institutions will be forced to reveal what they have hidden for decades, names and locations of hidden predators will be made public – protecting children and communities from pedophiles. For many, justice and accountability will be served.
If you believe in holding individuals and institutions responsible for crimes against children, if knowing the names and where about of known pedophiles is important to you and if you believe the protection of children is a fundamental responsibility of society then you support the Child Victims Act.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Child Victims Act, join state Sen. Tim Kennedy, advocates and myself from 1 to 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, March 10 at UB South Campus, Harriman Hall.
I encourage you to call: Sens. Chris Jacobs and Patrick Gallivan and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and voice your support that the Child Victims Act be included in the 2018 budget and be passed in its current form.
Thomas Travers of Buffalo is a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest and the founder of William's Place (www.williamsplace.life).