HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Survivors of childhood sexual abuse have been rallying for years to get their chance at justice. On Monday, an unusual group joined their ranks.
“The fear and the pain and the trauma, the shame that we experience as survivors,” said Rep. La’Tasha Mayes (D).
Mayes is the latest lawmaker to disclose childhood sexual assault, and now another group is finding its voice.
“The Amish community I lived in had rampant child sexual abuse,” said Misty Griffin, author of Tears of the Silenced.
“I’m also a survivor of child sexual abuse,” said John Zook, who partook in the rally.
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It’s been a year since the documentary “Sins of the Amish,” which was based on Griffin’s memoir, revealed the abuse within the community.
The assaults are horrific, she says, but the community-wide cover-up is worse.
“Forgiveness is too often more important than getting children away from danger and keeping other kids from becoming victimized, wanting to sound the alarm,” Griffin added.
“There are several organizations within our own community with absolutely no accountability, wielding their authority and money, and stopping at nothing to silence the victims, as well as those brave enough to stand up for them,” said Zook.
These survivors are standing and asking for a Constitutional amendment that would let them sue their abusers beyond the statute of limitations. Competing versions of that amendment are currently stalled in the legislature.
“The politicians need to figure this out. They need to put aside whatever is their problem, and they need to put children first,” said Professor Marci Hamilton, founder and CEO of Child USA.
“I could not sit back and let them come here alone, because that’s what we spent a lot of our life is being alone in this fight,” said Brooke Rush, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
Rush says she was abused by her pediatrician in Johnstown. She came to Monday’s rally to let Amish survivors know they are not alone.
“I get emotional every time I see people standing up and fighting for this because we’re not fighting for ourselves anymore. We’re fighting for the children that are still being hurt,” Rush said.
An amendment, supporters say, has less to do with money and more to do with naming, outing and stopping abusers.
Both the House and the Senate have their own versions of the amendment, and there is some hope here that Governor Shapiro will be able to bring the two sides together as part of the budget process.