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Abolish the statute of limitations for all survivors of sexual assault

SENATE BILL 406

SPONSORED BY SENATORS KATIE MUTH, MARIA COLLETT, TIM KEARNEY, STEVE SANTARSIERO, LINDSEY WILLIAMS AND WAYNE FONTANA

Notification of Sexual Violence Victim Rights on College Campuses

SENATE BILL 909 − Require colleges and universities to provide written notification to students and employees of the rights, accommodations, and protective measures available to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence

Sponsored by Senator Steve Santarsiero

Task Force on secondary and postsecondary campus sexual assault and relationship violence

SENATE RESOLUTION 122 − Conduct a study on the impact of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking on Commonwealth students

Sponsored by Senator Vincent Hughes

Yes Means Yes: Affirmative Consent and Coordination of Services

SENATE BILL 730 − Increase access to comprehensive, coordinated, and confidential support and services for victims of sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking

Sponsored by Senator Amanda Cappelletti

Establishment of a Statewide Rape Kit Tracking System

SENATE BILL 860 − Create a statewide tracking system for sexual assault evidence, housed within the Pennsylvania State Police- Senate Bill 860

SPONSORED BY SENATOR KATIE MUTH

Dating and Sexual Violence Prevention Education

SENATE BILL 354 − Require schools to establish specific policies regarding dating violence, including reporting procedures for students, parents, legal guardians, or third parties

SPONSORED BY SENATOR JUDY SCHWANK

Sentence Enhancement - Crime in Violation of Protection Order / Consent Decree

SENATE BILL 338 − Require enhanced sentencing when an individual violates a protection order or consent agreement, which includes violence or sexual violence, issued by a court

SPONSORED BY SENATOR LISA BOSCOLA

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) brings awareness to the many ways both women and men can experience assault, harassment, or abuse at work, at home, online, or in their communities.

Sexual assault is a pervasive problem that affects millions, but everyone can help to build a world that promotes respect, boundaries, and safety. Education and prevention efforts can protect millions more from experiencing crimes that often cause pain, trauma, and shame.

This year’s SAAM theme is Building Safe Online Spaces Together.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center encourages individuals to work together to ensure online spaces are safe, respectful, and not tolerant of harmful content and behaviors. We cannot accept harassment, cyberbullying, sexual abuse, and exploitation as typical and unavoidable behaviors online. Together, we can prioritize safety and respect in online worlds, and simultaneously take those values, skills, and actions to create thriving spaces offline. 

We urge all Pennsylvanians to recognize how we can prevent sexual violence before it even starts.  If you are just now learning about the issue and want to make your loved ones and communities safer, act now and encourage others to do the same.

National Sexual Assault Help Line

1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

GET HELP 24/7

Understanding Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence Happens in Every Community

How you understand and talk about it matters. Become an agent for change by using your voice to shift how others think about and react to this critical issue.

What is sexual violence?

  • Sexual violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact – including sexual assault and rape.
  • This can include words and actions like sexual harassment, catcalling, and nonconsensual sharing of private images such as “revenge porn.”

Sexual violence impacts everyone

  • Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 67 men in the U.S. have experienced rape or attempted rape some time in their lives (Smith et al., 2017).
  • Anyone can experience sexual violence, including children, teens, adults, and seniors.

Victims often know the person who Sexually assaulted them

  • People who sexually abuse can be family members, friends, romantic partners, or other trusted individuals.
  • They may use coercion, manipulation, threats, or force to commit sexual violence.

Victims are never to blame

  • It doesn’t matter what someone was wearing, how they were acting, if they were drinking, or what type of relationship they had with the person who abused them

Sexual assault is often not reported

  • A person may not report what happened for many reasons, including:
    • Concern they won’t be believed
    • Fear of retaliation
    • Distrust of law enforcement
    • Shame or fear of being blamed
    • Pressure from others

healing and justice look different for every survivor

  • A survivor may or may not choose to move forward with the criminal justice system.
  • Healing is an ongoing process. Everyone heals in their own time and their own way.

You can support survivors

  • Chances are you know someone who has experienced sexual violence even if they haven’t told you.
  • They are listening to how you talk about the issue, and hearing that you understand and believe survivors may help them feel safe.

embrace your voice

  • Sexual violence thrives when it is not taken seriously and victim blaming goes unchecked.
  • Your voice is essential in setting the record straight on sexual violence.

Smith, S. G., Chen, J., Basile, K. C., Gilbert, L. K., Merrick, M. T., Patel, N., … Jain, A. (2017). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010-2012 state report. Retrieved from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/NISVS-StateReportBook.pdf

More Information

2021-2022 Session Legislation

Senate Bill 909 − “It’s on Us!” Notification of Sexual Violence Victim Rights on College Campuses

SB 909 − This legislation would require institutions of higher education to provide students and employees with a written notification of rights, protective measures, and accommodations afforded to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Sponsored by Senator Steve Santarsiero

Senate Bill 730 − Yes Means Yes: Affirmative Consent and Coordination of Services

Senate Bill 730  This legislation would require institutions of higher education to provide students and employees with a written notification of rights, protective measures, and accommodations afforded to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Sponsors: Senators Amanda Cappelletti, Maria Collett, Katie Muth

Senate Bill 354 − Dating and Sexual Violence Prevention Education

Senate Bill 354 This legislation would require schools to establish specific policies regarding dating violence, including reporting procedures for students, parents, legal guardians, or third parties; disciplinary procedures and penalties for students perpetrating dating violence against other students; and information regarding the Protection from Abuse law. Additionally, schools and districts would be required to post these policies on the school or district website, in every classroom where practical, and in at least one prominent location within a school.  

Sponsor: Senator Judy Schwank

Senate Bill 860 − Establishment of a Statewide Rape Kit Tracking System

Senate Bill 860 This legislation would create a statewide tracking system for sexual assault evidence, housed within the Pennsylvania State Police. This system would allow victims to log-in any time to access the status of their evidence—where it is currently located, when it was submitted, and who to contact for help and more information.

Sponsored by Senator Katie Muth

Senate Bill 406 − Abolishing the Statute of Limitations for ALL Survivors of Sexual Assault

Senate Bill 406 This legislation would eliminate the criminal and civil statute of limitation for sexual abuse, assault, and misconduct for all survivors, regardless of age; Provide a 2-year civil window to revive previously expired SOL claims with a 6-month delay; And prohibit non-disclosure agreements that would otherwise prevent an adult survivor to report.

Sponsors: Senators Katie Muth, Maria Collett, Timothy Kearney, Steve Santarsiero, Lindsey Williams, and Wayne Fontana

Senate Bill 338 − Sentence Enhancement - Crime in Violation of Protection Order / Consent Decree

Senate Bill 338 This legislation would require the Commission on Sentencing to provide a sentence enhancement when an individual, who at the time the crime was committed, was in violation of a protection order or consent agreement, including violence or sexual violence, issued by a court.

Sponsor: Senator Lisa Boscola

Senate Resolution 122 − Task Force on secondary and postsecondary campus sexual assault and relationship violence

Senate Resolution 122 A Resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study on the impact of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking on Commonwealth students enrolled in grades six through twelve and postsecondary institutions and issue a report of its findings and recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly.

Sponsor: Senator Vincent Hughes

Additional Resources and Advocacy

RAINN
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
Safe Secure Kids
Women’s Law Project