Sexual assault survivors push NY lawmakers to pass Adult Survivors Act

Manhattan

LOWER MANHATTAN, New York — In an effort to get the Adult Survivors Act passed, women who have reported experiencing sexual abuse at Safe Horizon, the nation’s largest victim services agency, Tuesday putting pressure on lawmakers.

The bill, modeled after the Child Victims Act, would allow survivors to sue their alleged abusers after the statute of limitations has passed.

Drew Dixon, who has accused music mogul Russell Simmons of rape, shared her experience.

“It took me 22 years to be ready to say out loud that I was raped by Russell Simmons,” she said. “Survivors face so many obstacles on our lifelong journey to healing.”

Dixon filed a suit against Simmons in 2018, but the case was dismissed by a judge for falling outside of the statute of limitations.

The Adult Survivors Act would give survivors who were at least 18 when they were sexually assaulted a one year look-back window to file claims against an alleged abuser.

Liz Roberts, CEO of Safe Horizon, said only recently have laws started to catch up with the realities of trauma.

“Many survivors need years, sometimes even decades, before they are ready to come forward and talk about their abuse,” Roberts said. “Some fear retribution if they come forward. Others may have struggled with shame and self-doubt.”

The speakers also said women of color face even greater hurdles when reporting sexual abuse.

The women embraced one another after sharing their stories and gripped each other’s arms for support.

Evelyn Yang, wife of former New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, is one of over 200 women who have accused former gynecologist Dr. Robert Hadden of sexual abuse. She spoke out on Tuesday as well.

“He knew perfectly how to use his position of power and authority to exert control over our bodies for his personal sexual gratification,” she said.

The bill unanimously passed in the senate this year, but is stalled in the assembly. If passed, it will head to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s desk. 

Senator Brad Hoylman said he’s hopeful change will come.

“We have a governor — a woman — who I think understands these issues in a way that, frankly, we haven’t seen before,” Hoylman said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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