Statute of Limitations: Amy’s Testimony
Amy is a longtime supporter of ChicagoCAC and a survivor of abuse. At the time that she was abused, child advocacy centers like ours did not exist, and she was not provided the support and opportunity for justice that children today receive. This is the testimony that she submitted in support of removing the statute of limitations, based on her experiences attempting to report abuse.
Good afternoon members of the committee. My name is Amy. Thank you for allowing me to share my personal story of sexual abuse, as I believe it will offer insight into the importance of supporting Senate Bill 189. While the story of my abuse is difficult for me share, I am grateful for the opportunity to finally utilize my voice to protect other children from experiencing the horror that I experienced as a child, and the pain that I continue to suffer as an adult.
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and currently reside on Chicago’s north side. I was sexually abused for eight consecutive years by an adult neighbor who was a trusted family friend and pillar of the community. The abuse began when I was only 5 years old and occurred on a nearly daily basis until I was 9 years old. At that time, my family moved, and the abuse occurred less frequently. My abuser was bold, calculated and unrelenting in his power to manipulate me. He groomed me by offering me cookies, saying kind words and playing touching games to gain my trust. He silenced me by manipulating me into believing that the abuse was our special secret. At the age of 13, the abuse ended when I finally disclosed to my parents. Fortunately, my parents believed me and supported me throughout my journey of healing. While I was relieved that the abuse had ended and was grateful that I was finally safe for the first time in my life, I was haunted by the knowledge that my perpetrator was, undoubtedly, abusing other children.
While I was relieved that the abuse had ended and was grateful that I was finally safe for the first time in my life, I was haunted by the knowledge that my perpetrator was, undoubtedly, abusing other children.
When I approached my parents about reporting the abuse, they were fearful of traumatizing me further and made the decision that it was best that I not report to the police. While I respected my parent’s decision, in my heart, I knew I could not remain silent forever. I was fully aware that I was not my perpetrator’s only or last victim. For the next several years, the guilt of not reporting weighed heavily on me. I worried that my continued silence was allowing this sick, dangerous man to abuse other children. In my early twenties, I finally summoned the courage to report the abuse to the police. Unfortunately, my voice was silenced when shortly after I arrived at the police station, an officer informed me that the statute of limitations had expired and there was no legal action that could be taken against my abuser. Learning that I missed the deadline to seek justice against my abuser was devastating. I felt helpless, depressed and angry that the law protected perpetrators and not children. Once again I was the victim, powerless to my abuser.
I felt helpless, depressed and angry that the law protected perpetrators and not children. Once again I was the victim, powerless to my abuser.
Since my late teens, I have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. I have spent more than half of my life and thousands of dollars every year participating in various forms of therapeutic services focused on trauma and recovery. The abuse has impacted all aspects of my life, including my relationships. While I have made significant progress in my healing, I continue to struggle with immeasurable emotional pain from the years of horror my abuser inflicted upon me. I mourn for the child that I was prior to the abuse and the innocence that was stolen from me when I was only 5 years old.
The laws regarding the statute of limitations on sexual abuse in Illinois played a detrimental role in my story. For the last 30 years, I have had to live with the pain and guilt that other children most likely suffered the same abuse that I experienced as a child because a law was in place that protected my perpetrator.
I am here today to ask you to reform the current statute of limitations to allow victims the time they require to come forward to seek justice.
I am here today to ask you to reform the current statute of limitations to allow victims the time they require to come forward to seek justice. I disclosed my abuse at an early age and was fortunate that my parents believed me and supported me both emotionally and financially. Despite this, I was still too late to seek justice in our system. Many survivors do not disclose this early, as they do not have the support and resources that I had. I have never understood why, when there is no statute of limitations for murder, there is a statute of limitations for sexual crimes. My abuser murdered part of my soul. Please prevent this heinous crime from happening to other innocent children. Vote yes to Senate Bill 189. The clock should never run out on reporting child sexual abuse.