An Overview of the Adult Survivors Act

Adults of various races with their arms around each other, facing away from the camera and towards a sunset

Photo Credit: DisobeyArt

New York state’s Adult Survivors Act, a law that created a one-year window during which the statute of limitations on filing civil suits for sexual abuse was lifted, recently expired – and a flurry of lawsuits were filed in the final days of the window. In total, the law yielded roughly 3,700 legal claims, many of which garnered heavy news coverage. As the New York law has expired, other states are looking to the legislation as a roadmap for how they might give survivors the opportunity to retroactively seek justice.

As a result of the #MeToo movement, survivors were coming forward with their stories – but had no form of legal recourse when, in many cases, the statute of limitations had expired. New York state used the Child Victims Act as a model for the new legislation, which had provided a similar look-back window for past victims of sexual assault to bring civil lawsuits. In an interview with New York Magazine, New York state senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal discussed the importance of #MeToo in getting the law passed, the importance of giving survivors the space to tell their stories and seek justice, and the potential for extending or making permanent the look-back window for the law.

While New York’s law spurred heavy media coverage due to the high-profile names embroiled in some cases – former president Donald Trump, rapper P. Diddy, and New York mayor Eric Adams among them – the media coverage is only a small piece in a broader landscape. Many survivors who have filed claims through the act have or will settle their cases, but others could take years to reach a resolution in court. Even with that, the emotional and psychological toll on survivors is high. While giving survivors the time and space to share their stories is essential, it doesn’t negate the fact that speaking out can be an incredibly difficult experience.

Although the look-back window has expired, activists and people in the space hope that the Adult Survivors Act’s success in New York will prompt additional action across the country. In New York, legislators are considering extending the act or eliminating the statute of limitations for sexual assault lawsuits completely. California is currently one year into a three-year look-back window, with legislation similar to New York’s bill. Advocates hope that other states will follow suit and create their own look-back windows, giving survivors the opportunity to speak out and get justice. While legislation like the Adult Survivors Act doesn’t take away the negative experiences of survivors, its role in providing survivors a space to receive some form of closure is an important one that other states can and should mirror.

RALIANCE is a trusted adviser for organizations committed to building cultures that are safe, equitable, and respectful. RALIANCE offers unparalleled expertise in serving survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse which drives our mission to help organizations across sectors create inclusive environments for all. For more information, please visit


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