ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Victims of domestic violence will now have an extra year to sue their abuser. A new law will extend the statute of limitations and allow victims to file civil lawsuits. It’s similar to what the state did for victims of sexual assault.
Right now victims must file civil suits within one year. This new law gives them another year. The governor’s office said:
“The new law recognizes the sensitive nature of domestic violence and affords victims two years to initiate a civil suit against their abuser. The bill takes effect immediately.”
Mike Burger is an attorney. He said choosing to file a lawsuit against an abuser is not a quick or easy decision, and this new law will allow more time.
“It’ll help someone if they’ve now freed themselves from domestic violence and had time to go through counseling and process what’s happened to them and sometimes a year’s too short to do that, two years could be too short to do that,” said Burger.
Alli O’Malley is the CEO of Resolve of Greater Rochester, which works to stop domestic violence. She said people often think of taking criminal action first, but that may not be the best option for everyone.
“Sometimes people don’t use that remedy in the issue of domestic violence because that may be the father of their children, maybe they don’t want them to go to jail but then they have also decided to pursue divorce and now they’re separate from that person and they decide they want to pursue them in a civil court for monetary damages,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley said she wants victims to know they have this option.
“When you decide to go down that road you have to be mentally prepared as well as physically able to kind of go through that process and it takes time to come to a decision,” she said.
In order to be considered a victim for this new statute of limitations, you must be 16 or older at the time of the abuse. Anyone under sixteen has the same previous statute of limitations, which is rolled until they turn 18.
Governor Cuomo said this in a statement:
“The trauma of domestic violence can take years to overcome, and frankly one year isn’t enough time for survivors to come to terms with what happened to them and to take action against their attacker.”