Letter: Thank you Rankin, Roberts for supporting survivor-centered policy | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: Thank you Rankin, Roberts for supporting survivor-centered policy

On behalf of Routt County’s sexual assault survivors, Advocates of Routt County must thank our state legislators who voted “yes” on Senate Bill 73 to eliminate the civil statute of limitations for sexual assault. As the executive director of this agency, I’m confident this survivor-centered policy will provide a path to healing for so many.

Sen. Rankin, Rep. Roberts, thank you for taking the first step on the journey to expand access to the civil legal system for sexual assault survivors. Now, we are counting on you to support Senate Bill 88, also known as the Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act.

Colorado has a decades-old, well-documented history of institutions covering up the sexual abuse of children in their care. We need to stop this. That’s why we need the legislators from Routt County to support and vote “yes” on the Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act.

In my experience working in the anti-sexual violence movement, the trauma of institutional cover up is distinct from the trauma of sexual abuse. My team and I do everything we can to provide services; but some things, like health care treatment and long-term mental health treatment, are outside of our purview. And these things cost money. Research shows that sexual abuse is extremely costly, averaging more than $151,000 per victim. It’s not fair that victims and taxpayers are shouldering this financial burden.

Our civil legal system is the single system designed to provide victims with the financial resources they need to heal from emotional, physical and mental trauma. Childhood sexual abuse survivors deserve to access the civil legal system and hold the institutions accountable who, at best, were complicit in the abuse and at worst, participatory in shielding serial sex offenders from accountability.

In addition to holding institutions accountable for failing to protect children in their care, Senate Bill 88 will also incentivize the prevention of child sexual abuse by finally holding bad actors accountable.

I constantly see the terrible outcomes of childhood sexual abuse, and I know Routt County deserves better. Sen. Rankin and Rep. Roberts have already taken the first step to support civil statute of limitations reform by supporting Senate Bill 73. I hope to see them continue their dedication to survivors of Routt County by voting “yes” on Senate Bill 88, too.

Lisel Petis

Advocates of Routt County executive director

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