(WGGB) — Survivors of child sexual abuse are applauding a bill that recently passed the Massachusetts House and Senate.
The bill extends the statute of limitations for victims to file lawsuits against their abusers.
Kathy Picard of Ludlow is one of the prime movers behind this latest piece of legislation. For a long time, she repressed her abuse and finally feels that now she can begin the healing process.
“Mine…it was a family member that sexually abused me at a young age,” Picard explains.
Picard became a victim of sexual abuse by a family member at the age of 7 and the abuse lasted ten years.
She repressed the abuse until she came forward 21 years later.
“It’s impacted my life tremendously and it will always be a part of my life. Being a survivor of sexual abuse…it’s something that is always going to be part of my life.”
Under the current law, the statute of limitations had run out for her to file a lawsuit in Massachusetts against her abuser.
“It wasn’t until I was older – 28 years old – and once realizing that what had happened to me shouldn’t have happened, I was too late to file suit, so I had missed the statute of limitations to go forward,” Picard adds.
But the Mass. House and Senate have unanimously passed a bill to extend by more than 30 years the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse.
Existing law gives victims until age 21 to file civil actions against their abusers. The new bill raises that age to 53 and that means Picard will now be able to take legal action against her abuser.
She says the healing process can now begin for her and says there are thousands of other sexual abuse victims across the state who may also behind their healing process.
“There are still people in the process of being healed, so I’m hoping that my case that will open the door and let others know they can go forward because the sooner they go forward it makes Massachusetts less victimized.”
The bill that passed unanimously in the House and Senate is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature.
Picard hopes that will come soon.
Picard intends to take legal action against her accuser, now that the statute of limitations has been extended. She and her lawyer told ABC40 that as soon as the bill is signed into law by the Governor, they will file their civil suit in federal court in Springfield.
On other note, Picard will ask the Governor for the pen he uses to sign the bill which she says it so vitally important for her healing process.