Just days away from when the final budget is supposed to be passed, the Child Victims Act is one big policy issue that could hit the cutting room floor, but for some survivors, this would be a huge disappointment.
The Child Victims Act would make it easier for victims of child sex abuse to seek justice as adults- and that’s just what one local survivor is hoping to do after she says she suffered years of abuse at the hands of her stepfather.
“For someone that you trust to violate your body… it’s devastating.” Mary Ellen O’loughlin says her stepfather molested her as a young teen. This, she says, is the kind of emotional trauma that leaves scars.
“I look back at pictures and they’re sad pictures. Those are not memories that I want,” O’loughlin says.
And Mary Ellen stayed silent back then. Now, it is not just her own abuse that troubles her, it is knowing that her siblings endured the same things.
“To be carrying that weight. And to be believing that because I didn’t say anything, that they were abused.. that’s really tough,” she tells NEWS10 ABC.
Now, after many years and therapy sessions, Mary Ellen wants justice. And she says if the Child Victims Act is included in the state budget, it could give her that chance and more.
“More importantly than finding the justice is to identify the hidden predators. They are hidden because their victims age out and they’re never identified,” she says.
Lawmakers like Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy have also come out in support of the act.
“In the end, I think we need to give more attention to the victims than we do to the pedophiles, and it is important that we give them their day in court,” the Assemblywoman told NEWS10 ABC.
But for Mary Ellen, seeing her attacker in court would mean more than just legal recourse. It would be a chance to make up for years of silence, and speak out not just for herself, but for her siblings.
“If I’m the one who prosecutes him, it’s really for them. And I’m finally doing something,” she says.
The state budget is due by Sunday, and Mary Ellen and other survivors say if the Child Victims Act is not part of the deal, they will keep the momentum alive and continue to fight for it.