Suffering In Silence
Scott Weiland, the lead singer of the Stone Temple Pilots, was found dead at 48 years old, on his tour bus from a mix of drugs and alcohol. The vocalist appeared to be self-medicating for numerous problems that he was facing. The question has to be asked: Why would someone with so much talent, fame, and wealth go through life self-medicating or trying to cover up or deal with his pain? The answer may surprise you. Many people suffer in silence. Weiland said, “When I was 12 years old and living in Ohio, a big muscular guy, a high school senior… (who) rode the bus with me every day to school…invited me to his house. The dude raped me. It was quick, not pleasant. I was too scared to tell anyone. (The abuser said), ‘Tell anyone, and you’ll never have another friend in this school. I’ll ruin your reputation.'”1 Weiland added, “This is a memory I suppressed until only a few years ago when, in rehab, it came flooding back. Therapy will do that to you.”2
According to another victim of sexual abuse, “Though I still become caught in fear and anger, each day I become more aware of the power I possess to choose love. The most powerful words given to me during this painful process of healing came from Martin Luther King, Sr., ‘No matter what you do to me, I will not give you the power to make me hate.'”3 Those words are significant and powerful especially for those persons who have been sexually abused or have suffered trauma in their lives. Many victims of childhood sexual abuse have so much pain and anger that they have difficulty functioning in everyday life. Because the trauma is so deep and painful, many victims lash out in hate and rage as a result of those deep unhealed wounds. Trauma and traumatic experiences like this that happen in early childhood can affect all aspects of life and alter life forever. Many victims of sexual abuse suffer in silence for decades. Many experience shameful thoughts for the things that occurred, suicidal tendencies, and a feeling of blame or hopelessness that they may have been responsible or had something to do with what took place. Afterward, they attempt to come to grips with this emotional, mental and psychological trauma on their own, usually with poor results. Children who have experienced sexual abuse throughout their lifetimes — much like Scott Weiland — try to avoid thinking about those traumatic memories in order to attempt to function in a normal way. Unfortunately, in all likelihood this will do more harm than good. Victims of sexual abuse have difficulties understanding that they are actually victims of sexual abuse, and that they have residual effects from that abuse. Scott Weiland, like many others, said that he was “scared” and he did not want to “tell anybody”, and tried to “suppress the memories until those memories came flooding back”. When that happens, it usually opens up a Pandora’s Box of psychological trauma for the victims of sexual abuse that they are unable to process. Many times victims are unsuccessful in trying to reconcile why the abuse happened to them, as well as how it is continuing to affect them. The traumatic event has tremendous effects on not only on one’s normal behavior, but also on one’s ability to function and interact with others in daily life. Many times the children of sexual abuse experience numerous emotions inclusive of fear, unbelief, fear of the abuser, rejection, no self-worth, or that their reputation would be ruined if it was disclosed that they were raped or sexually abused. People they fear, out of ignorance, may think they are gay or dysfunctional if abused by a member of the same sex. Many victims of sexual abuse go through all these stages in life without anyone knowing, understanding, caring or even helping. They suffer in silence.
Data supports these statements that many victims of rape and sexual abuse are hesitant to come forward for reasons of shame, embarrassment, and feeling as though they might not be believed by the police or even family members; therefore, they often wait years after the abuse has ended to come forward and tell their story.4 In many instances, they never come forward at all. Unfortunately for victims of abuse, when they wait so long, sometimes for years or decades, it is very difficult for them to pursue any type of criminal prosecution or civil litigation against their abusers. Most states carry a very harsh statute of limitations rule that only allows claims two years or less from the date of the incident, assault or injury or be barred forever from making their claim. In very limited circumstances it can be expanded. This is unfortunate because the standard in the law for when a person knows or fully understands they were victims of sexual abuse begins to run when that person is abused, not when they become fully aware that they were abused. . I believe that laws governing statute of limitations in abuse cases should only begin after years of therapy, processing, healing; when the victim begins to understand all the residual effects of the abuse. For the courts to determine a victim knew and understood they were sexually abused along with its impact on them at such an early stage is harsh and wrong. In many instances victims do not understand what happened to them and are therefore less able to assert their legal rights for claims and injuries. I find it hard to believe that the victims, in such a short time period, are able to process the traumatic events along with the traumatic effects that it has on their lives physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually, until there is a significant amount of competent psychological or pastoral care and healing. Not only do victims go through the thoughts of not being believed or stereotyped, but many times— according to data on this issue — children that have been abused go through additional harmful phases. They go through a time of secrecy, where shortly after the assault or abuse happens, they are so traumatized by it, embarrassed by it that they choose to live in secrecy keeping this traumatic injury only to themselves not telling their parents, friends, teachers and the people closest to them.5 Another phase many of the victims of sexual abuse go through is the feeling of helplessness.6 They feel that the act was already perpetrated on them and that now they are powerless to stop it and powerless to do anything about it. Many times the abuse is forceful, violent, indecent, and painful not only physically, but emotionally. They feel helpless to do anything about it then and they continue in a state of helplessness. Another phase that victims may go through is entrapment or accommodation.7 They may try to rationalize what happened to them; for instance, they may think that it was not as bad as they thought, or it may be that they didn’t believe they had a choice in the matter and they now have to just live with the assault and the ramifications of the sexual abuse. This area is very problematic and complex in the sense that many times the victims do not grasp or fully understand what occurred or the ramifications on them from a psychological standpoint. This makes the harm even greater. The next phase many go through — as even Scott Weiland indicated — is a delay, a repression, where the mind suppresses and pushes away the traumatic event.8 I find that when this occurs victims are somehow able to function; albeit not at a healthy level. Many times, they self-medicate themselves. They become drug and alcohol dependent and many times have unhealthy sexual dysfunctions and other issues. This trauma and the psychological effects have significant ramifications that are very difficult, if not impossible, for the victim to be able to process without professional intervention. Another stage many victims go through is denial; they try to make like it never happened.9 They try to somehow compartmentalize or erase these traumatic events. We have found that the more they try to repress or deny these memories, the more secondary trauma they face when trying to deal with what has occurred. Many times, it comes like a flood of emotions that overwhelm the victim, much like what happened to Scott Weiland.
This may be a reason why so many victims of sexual abuse suffer numerous medical conditions. Many studies have suggested that there is “a powerful relationship between our emotional experiences as children and our physical and mental health as adults….traumatic emotional experiences in childhood (grow) into organic disease later in life.”10 We have found that many of the victims of childhood sexual abuse have experienced alcohol abuse, drug abuse, chronic depression, morbid obesity, diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease and many other effects. These medical symptoms may be causally related to the person suffering in silence. The trauma builds up in their body; they are unable to properly process it and it has physiological and psychological effects on the victims as they grow up and become adults. Neuroscience has taught us, unfortunately, that “we can never erase or completely work through a traumatic experience because it remains encoded in our neuropsychology (and) there is no such thing as working something through once and for all”11 These are very problematic medical findings that lead us to believe that many victims of sexual abuse and trauma do suffer in silence all the days of their lives. Unfortunately, because of the abuse and trauma, in many instances they are unable to function normally, have normal jobs, or healthy relationships. Often times they are not able to receive the proper counseling and care they need in order to help heal these very deep wounds that many of them suffer.
Data on sexual abuse victims tells us that the trauma involved in sexual abuse is difficult to not only understand but also to process.12 Children who have experienced sexual abuse throughout their life often fall into the trap of trying to repress their memories, deny their memories, and forget their memories in order to function in a normal way. Attempts to function in a normal way, as it relates to the trauma that they experienced, runs counter to normal healthy living. Many victims of sexual abuse are ill-equipped on their own to deal with these issues. They are afraid to come forward for fear of unbelief; that they are lying, and that they are manipulating and fearful of being rejected or abused again. In their minds they process that it is better to live and suffer in silence than to talk about it or face the realities and ramifications of the abuse.
Victims may never totally forget about the traumatic event or, as stated, they try to repress it; this may go on for years or decades. At the same time, they cannot understand why they are having functional problems with living a normal life.
When I came across the painting entitled, The Scream (1893) by Edvard Munch, it made me believe that it vividly illustrates the pain and anxiety many victims go through. The painting depicts a skeletal figure with its mouth open wide screaming with its hands over its ears on a bridge with two people in the background. As I began to look at this painting, I began to understand that this is how many victims of sexual abuse feel. They feel much like this eerie painting. This person, whether male or female, are covering their ears because they do not want to hear the scream or pain that they are feeling. The people in the background seem to be carrying on in everyday life, indifferent to the pain that this individual is going through. This painting signifies what many victims of sexual abuse go through as the world around them carries on normally. People that have not experienced this type of trauma, wake up, go to work, have lunch, and have interactions with family and friends, much like the couple in the painting. Maybe they are married with children and lead happy lives, but they do not have to deal with the wounds of being sexually abused like the person screaming in pain and agony. I think this painting embodies what victims feel like and how many suffer alone in silence.
Unfortunately, the law has done little to help victims of sexual abuse. In fact, the law is becoming more difficult for victims to not only obtain the proper relief, but also to pursue their abusers in court. There is no legal basis in the law or in the statutes for people to pursue the abusers for damages under what I believe is the proper conduit for victims of child sexual abuse. That proper diagnosis is post-traumatic stress syndrome, not mental insanity.
The term mental insanity has so many negative connotations, not only in the legal system but also to many victims that have suffered psychological trauma from being sexually abused. The term mental insanity suggests that the person or victim that is suffering a mental condition is somehow different then so-called normal people because they have a condition deemed socially unacceptable. They are stereotyped and this label can be very detrimental to the healing of victims of sexual abuse. Unlike many that have mental insanity, “which is a condition that impacts a person’s thinking, feeling or mood and may affect his or her ability to relate to others and function on a daily basis”13, in many cases these conditions are congenital passed down through generations; or because of a medical condition or imbalance not stemming from a traumatic event brought about through no fault of their own.
I actually believe that the law, as it stands now, perpetuates the traumatic injuries resulting from sexual abuse that are experienced by children and adults. Victims are thrown into the vague category of mental insanity. Trying to explain this to victims is very troubling. A more proper category that the law should embrace is post-traumatic stress syndrome. Under the law, we as counselors have to argue that victims of sexual abuse are mentally insane legally as the basis to toll the statute of limitations. We have to explain to the court, based upon medical evidence, documentation, treatment records, and through testimony that the mental condition is so significant that it renders the victim powerless and useless to come forward to assert their rights under the law. The reasoning is that they are so numbed mentally by the experience that they are rendered into an almost catatonic state much like mental insanity. As a result, they are not able to come forward and assert their rights within the two-year statute of limitation for victims of sexual assault. The difficulty is that in a way we have to manipulate the true diagnosis of the individual in order to fill a legal standard that in many instances affects the victim’s well-being. When victims go through the elements of post-traumatic stress syndrome, often an even more complex diagnosis develops, being called post-traumatic stress syndrome delayed. The event and memory is delayed until it comes “flooding back.” This happened to Scott Weiland: “This is a memory I suppressed until only a few years ago when, in rehab, it came flooding back.”14 In many cases, it involves a continual reoccurring of the event. The victims then experience this over and over, usually on a reoccurring basis. They try to avoid thoughts or stimuli and many times self-medicate in order to do so. Because of this we as lawyers are forced legally to codify these very significant and specific damaging effects into a broad category of mental insanity. It is unfortunate that the law is still so archaic in its approach to understanding the victims of sexual abuse. I, and others, are working to change the status of the law to repeal the statute of limitations as it relates to many of these victims so they can come forward and pursue their remedies in a court of law and also prosecute their wrong-doers, and perhaps even more importantly, educate the court system as to the true effects of abuse. The judicial system has failed to understand that these diagnoses are very complex and layered and not just a generic form of mental insanity, which does not and cannot explain the true diagnosis and residual effects that these victims go through. Post-traumatic stress syndrome is a diagnosis that many doctors who treat victims of sexual abuse have used because the victim is living in a post-traumatic stress syndrome; in many instances it is delayed because of disassociation. “The capacity of the mind to disassociate this may reduce the immediate pain and horror of the event, but it does so at a high cost. Studies now demonstrate that ‘people who enter a dissociative state at the time of the traumatic event are most likely to develop long-lasting PTSD.'”15 This is a very important aspect for many victims to deal with. When victims disassociate this may initially reduce the immediate pain of the event they went through, but I believe it is akin to a snowball coming down a very large hill collecting more snow. The snowball, although starting out small, grows in size and in devastation. When victims disassociates they do so initially in order to try to reduce the pain, but it begins a process of a harmful mental snowballing down a hill collecting more and more snow (mental conditions and effects of the trauma) before it ultimately leads to the absolute devastation of many of the victims we encounter.
It is important to understand the significance that trauma has on its victims in order to bring healing. How can the church give answers or help to victims of abuse? We find an answer in the person and work of Jesus Christ; in that Jesus lived a sinless life and died a horrible and painful death for us. He suffered not only separation and isolation from the ones that He loved; but also rejection by the people He grew up with; His torture and execution was a horrible excruciating process to go through but He suffered and understood what suffering feels like and what effect it has on the person. He could understand what others, inclusive of victims of sexual abuse, go through each and every day of our lives. This hope must be offered to victims of trauma and abuse.
This is what can we offer the victims of sexual abuse. How can any healing take place around some of these very difficult and traumatic events that people have experienced? I am reminded of one of the Scriptures in which Jesus healed a man who was born blind. The question His disciples asked when Jesus saw the man who was blind from birth, “‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.'”16 This is a tremendous Scripture of hope and comfort. I find that many people blame victims for what happened to them. Throughout many of my years of representing victims of sexual abuse I often wondered how in the world a child of 10 or 12 years old could be blamed for what happened. For whatever psychological reason, either the victims or others place blame on the victim; the innocent victims in fact did nothing to bring on the abuse and trauma that they experienced and they continue to go through these effects their entire lives. It is important for the process of healing through pastoral care or representing victims of sexual abuse that they understand that they are not to blame for this incident. The disciples were so quick to suggest to Jesus that this man born blind must have done something wrong to deserve this. Jesus was very quick to point out that the man did nothing wrong and neither did his parents. God allowed this to happen in His province so that God’s power and glory could be displayed through healing. I think it is important that victims of sexual abuse understand that they are not to blame; they are victims and the abusers are fully and totally responsible for the trauma inflicted and the pain that they endure. The damage that is done to victims of sexual abuse is so significant that they share the same residual effects with veterans of war. I believe both victims of sexual abuse and victims of war have overlapping effects.
In research about Vietnam War victims, they found similar residual effects; what is referred to as the Archetype dream. The Archetype dream is a very typical example of a certain person or thing, a recent symbol or motif or the original pattern or model of which all things of the same kind are based.17
Both Vietnam veterans and victims of sexual abuse have suffered through a horrific act that this type of dream embodies. Both have flashbacks and mental pictures of the traumas that they experienced. The traumatic event is replayed numerous times and each time it is horrifying and painful to relive these events even long after they are done but still, appear real. This disrupts sleep patterns and forces the victims, whether resting or awake, to experience trauma over and over.
Many victims of sexual abuse undergo these same responses. They have flashbacks, and are continuously brought back in time to the event of the abuse. This can happen at any time, for any reason. I’m reminded of one young man that I was representing. He had been sexually abused as a young boy by the local parish priest. This occurred when he was 10 to 12 years old. Fast forward 30 years later, without thinking about possible mental consequences, he went to a wedding at that same church where he was abused. The priest had long ago died but when he went into the church he started to experience tremendous anxiety, cold sweats, and fear. He experienced a flashback for the first time in his life. He had been abused in the balcony of this church. He remembered this and saw the mental picture and said to me, “it felt like I was abused again.” We must be able to bring support in the form of healing and representation for victims of sexual abuse, but without becoming so enveloped by it that we become personally involved.
This raises a significant issue for anyone involved in pastoral care, counseling or legal representation that we need to consider when dealing with victims of sexual abuse or trauma. And that is to what extent to we become emotionally involved. What is the line between being helpful or hurtful – to the victim and yourself? This, at times, is a very fine line and difficult to do. We learned from the interactions in the book, A Shining Affliction, that healing can take place in both parties, victim and counselor. We all experience injury, hurt, and rejection in our lives but we must be able to not become so personally invested that we are rendered ineffective in bringing healing. This has happened to me in my years of practice, but now I am more cognitive of this issue.
There are several areas of law that intersect with victims of sexual abuse in being able to find healing and closure. The general areas that need to be addressed are:
Does the law fairly and accurately understand the significant effects victims of sexual abuse have been through?
Has the law considered the complex diagnosis and elements of victims of sexual abuse?
Is the law a positive enforcement for victims to receive recompense and closure?
Finally, what changes need to be made in order to not only encourage victims of sexual abuse to come forward but also allow for them to pursue their legal remedies without endless legal barriers?
One of the most significant pieces of legislation to be put forth regarding victims of sexual abuse is New Jersey State Bill 868 that has been filed in the State Legislature. Bill 868 proposes sweeping reform as it relates to victims of sexual abuse and their access to the court system.
This new bill, if passed in the New Jersey Legislature, will eliminate the statute of limitations in civil actions for sexual abuse, expand the categories of entities and individuals that may be held responsible for the sexual abuse and clarify civil actions against public entities.
This would be a sweeping victory for victims of sexual abuse; to be able to pursue their legal rights without the imposing time constraints. To bring their charges to court when they believe they are ready to, mentally, emotionally and physically, and not be forced to pursue claims when they are not prepared or ready. The current harsh statute of limitations, N.J.S.A. 2A:14-218 and 2A:61 B-1 (b)19, provides that all personal injury cases must be commenced within two years.
The first and most significant hurdle victims of sexual abuse will encounter is the current prescribed two-year time limit that all victims of sexual abuse must file their claim in court or be barred. The rule N.J.S.A. 2A:14-2 states that all civil cases must be filed 2 within years from the date of the incident. In cases of child sexual abuse, they only have 2 years from their 18th birthday to file their claim or be barred. This puts unnecessary pressure on victims to come forward when they are not emotionally or mentally prepared to do so, let alone realize what has happened to them.
The law for bringing criminal prosecution is 5 years for authorities to prosecute offenses from the date of the incident.20 This harsh rule can be open ended, but that takes place only in very limited circumstances.
The status of the current law is very harsh because it fails to consider the mental conditions and significant psychological trauma that the victims have been through and continue to go through. What if the victims of sexual abuse are not ready to come forward in that period of time? What if they do not understand the significant psychological trauma and effects? What if they are fearful to “out” themselves? They are left no recourse under the law but to pursue claims under this time limit. Many times the statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions has already run out on the incidents so victims are left with no legal recourse.
These reforms would not only have significant implications for allowing cases of abuse to go forward, but they would also alleviate the pressure and tension on victims for failing to satisfy the stringent legal elements in order to assert their rights. We are currently pursuing cases that will hold liable institutions and organizations that allow or fail to protect victims of sexual abuse.
The harsh realities of the statute of limitations must be changed. Many states have abandoned any statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases, or opened a ‘free period’ during which all sexual abuse claims that may have expired could file their claims within a window of time to allow stale and expired claims to come forward and assert their rights.
Unfortunately, a large voice of opposition has come from an unlikely source, the Catholic Church. The Church has taken a very damaging position, as it relates to this pending bill. Although they say they are “concerned about the prevalence of sin and the crime of child abuse” and they claim to “support legislation that protects children”, they have come out against this bill and others like it nationwide.21
They believe that bills like this would have a “detrimental effect and hurt our vital ministries.” And that a change in the law would “open private institutions to lawsuits about events that are from 30, 40, or 50 years ago.” They continue and say “the very existence of ministries would be threatened, and parishes and schools might be forced to defend themselves against claims that are many decades old.”22
It is unfortunate that the incarnational church, a place that Christ ordained to be a place of refuge, forgiveness, love, and healing has turned out to perpetuate additional trauma and pain to victims that have suffered so much. They ask for us to “join with them in prayer for those that have experienced the pain of abuse, that they may find their individual paths to healing”23. But at the same time, the church has put a roadblock so they can’t.
These conditions and effects that victims of sexual abuse go through are potentially devastating when left untreated. The Christian community must take seriously their obligation to care and treat those victims of any trauma or abuse with love, care and understanding.
I believe that the church must be a voice for those that have been oppressed or traumatized. We must not only attempt to bring healing through pastoral care and psychological therapy, but also by changing the system that further victimizes the victims.
As the Apostle Paul said, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.”24 This is not only the rule of pastoral care but also the rule of the Christian community. We are obligated by the love of Christ and neighbors to help heal these deep wounds.
Without a doubt, sexual abuse has significant effects on its victims. Many victims live in silence and keep the abuse secret all their lives. Not only do practitioners in pastoral care, counseling and the legal system need to understand its significant effects; but more importantly, bring healing when possible. They may keep it silent, but it still has tremendous physical and psychological effects on the well-being of the victim. The court system and the legislature must expand the protection afforded to victims of sexual abuse not only to allow healing and closure, but to seek justice for their harm.
The month of April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Let us remember and hold in our prayers so that the multitudes of victims will no longer have and continue to “suffer in silence”.
1. Goodman, William. “Scott Weiland on Rape, Heroin, and Courtney Love | SPIN.” Spin. SpinMediaGroup, 17 May 2011. Web. 7 Apr. 2016.
3. Bass, Ellen, and Laura Davis. “Gizelle.” The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. New York: Perennial Library, 1988. 446-57. Print.
4. “Raising Awareness About Sexual Abuse.” NSOPW. The United States Department of Justice, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. <http://www.nsopw.gov/en-US/Education/FactsStatistics?AspxAutoDectedCookieSupport=1>
5. Summit, Roland, C. M.D., “The Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome.”, Child Abuse & Neglect, Vol. 7, p 5
6. Ibid, p. 6
7. Ibid, p. 9
8. Ibid, p. 12
10. Felitti, Vincent J., MD. “The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experiences to Adult Heath: Turning Gold into Lead.” Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program., n.p., 2002. Web. <https://nebula.wsimg.com/ed4f368a899fb5bc6286a76bc2967d9a?AccessKeyId=CD093BD909F6326CDF73&disposition=0&alloworigin=1>.
11. Van Den Blink, Han. “Trauma and Spirituality.” Reflective Practice: Formation and Supervision in Ministry 28 (2008): p. 41. Print
12. Summit, Roland, C. M.D., “The Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome.”, Child Abuse & Neglect, Vol. 7
13. “Mental Health Conditions.” NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions>.
14. Goodman, William. “Scott Weiland on Rape, Heroin, and Courtney Love | SPIN.” Spin. SpinMediaGroup, 17 May 2011. Web. 7 Apr. 2016.
15. Hunsinger, D. V. D. “Bearing the Unbearable: Trauma, Gospel and Pastoral Care.” Theology Today 68.1 (2011): 8-25. Print. pg. 13 (internal citations omitted)
16. John 9:2-3, NIV
17. “The Definition of Archetype.” Dictionary.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2016. <http://www.dictionary.com/browse/archetype?s=t>.
18. An Act concerning limitations of civil actions and amending N.J.S.2A:14-1 b. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of this section, every action at law against licensed persons as defined by section 1 of P.L.1995, c.139 (C2A:53A-26) and which is subject to the requirements of section 2 of P.L.1995, c.139 (C.2A:53A-27) shall be commenced within two years next after cause of the action shall have occurred. Attorneys fees shall not be awarded in any action subject to the limitations period in this subsection, except where authorized by statute of the New Jersey rules of Court.
19. 2A:61B-1(b), in any civil action for injury or illness based on sexual abuse, the cause of action shall accrue at the time of reasonable discovery of the injury and its causal relationship to the act of sexual abuse. Any such action shall be brought within two years after reasonable discovery.
20. There is no statute of limitations for sexual assault. “Sexual assault” is aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault. “Aggravated sexual assault” is sexual penetration in any of 10 circumstances. These include any circumstances in which the victim is under age 13 or the perpetrator (1) is related to the victim, (2) supervises the victim, or (3) is armed. “Sexual assault” involves (1) sexual contact between a victim under age 13 and a perpetrator who is at least four years older and (2) sexual penetration in any of seven circumstances. These seven circumstances include any circumstance involving (1) the use of force but in which the victim does not sustain severe injury, (2) a victim at least 16 but less than age 18, or (3) the victim is related to the perpetrator (N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:14-2(a)-(c)). The statute of limitations for aggravated criminal sexual contact or criminal sexual contact is five years.
21. Barres, John O. Letter. 30 Mar. 2016. MS. Allentown, PA.
24. Romans 15:1, NIV