Watch our special here:
The program begins by addressing the worst form of sexual abuse, child sex trafficking. We profile a young woman, who prefers to remain anonymous, but describes being a freshman in college and finding herself victimized and vulnerable to this crime when she was in desperate financial need. With therapeutic support from the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center and GEMS (Girls Educational & Mentoring Services), she escaped the grip of her exploiter and dreams of creating a Foundation to save others like herself.
The statistics are grim and children are most vulnerable between the ages of seven and thirteen. Six years ago, this series addressed the issue of New York State having one of the most restrictive Statute of Limitations, requiring that charges be made before the victim reaches the age of 23. Since 42 is the average age at which victims reveal having been abused, justice is denied to most adult survivors of child sexual abuse. While the State Assembly annually approves the Child Victims Act, the Senate still refuses to call for a vote on it, with an array of lobbyists blocking this change.
We feature three victims working with experts in a fight for justice and a struggle to change the law:
Fabio Cotza, is now Senior Director at the Safe Horizon Bronx Child Advocacy Center, and was raped when he was just nine years old. He speaks eloquently of the issues he faced, the impact on him personally, his attempts at suicide and his valiant efforts to recover from his abuse and save others.
Bridie Farrell, former member of the US National Speed Skating Team and a three-time American Record Holder, was just 15 and training for the Olympic trials in 1998, when she says she was sexually abused, by a much older team member. She is active in the #MeToo Movement and has Co-Founded a non-profit, "New York Loves Kids," dedicated to speaking out about child sexual abuse.
Brian Toale, was 16 and attending a prestigious Catholic high school on Long Island, when he was sexually abused. Ironically, the Archdiocese of Rockville Center has initiated a program enabling victims of clergy abuse to file for compensation. While it may provide justice for some victims, it has very limited parameters and since Brian was abused by a lay teacher, he has no recourse, but continues his efforts as an advocate for victims of child sexual abuse and the Child Victims Act.
This Special is the 21st in a series from WABC-TV's "Protect Our Children" campaign that originated in 1998. The campaign includes informational safety messages, a web site and campaign that continues to broadcast the pictures of missing children in every Eyewitness News Program. The previous Specials have received six Emmy Awards, six "Gracie" Awards from the American Women in Radio-TV-Film (AWRT) and Awards from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, (NCMEC). All of the segments along with additional material, web-chats and links to resources and agencies that can be of help will be posted on ABC7NY.com/Protect after the airing of the program.
PROTECT OUR CHILDREN: SEXUAL ABUSE, THE LAW, & JUSTICE
WEB ADDRESSES & PHONE NUMBERS
Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center
GEMS Girls Educational & Mentoring Services
National Trafficking Hotline
National Runaway Safeline
800-RUN-AWAY (786-2929) Hotline
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
800-656-HOPE (4673) Hotline
800-621-HOPE (4673) 24 Hour Hotline
Bridie Farrell - Athlete & Advocate
NY LOVES KIDS
Leaders - A NYC Outward Bound School
Times Up Movement
Brian Toale Blog
From Victim to Survivor/ Giving Back the Shame
Birzon Strang & Associates
The Diocese of Rockville Centre
SNAP Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Mental Health America
For Resources & Expert Advice
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
24 Hour Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
National Center For Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)
800-THE LOST (843-5678)