Column: New laws protect young survivors

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Commentary by Rep. Jerry Torr

Navigating the court system can be a confusing and overwhelming experience, especially for someone who has endured a heinous crime. When reporting sex crimes, survivors are often asked to recount these experiences and share intimate details, which can lead to additional trauma. New laws effective as of July 1 can better protect young Hoosiers and support sexual assault survivors when reporting the terrible acts they have experienced.    

To prevent children from enduring additional trauma when seeking justice for the serious crimes committed against them, I sponsored Senate Enrolled Act 206 so young Hoosiers are no longer forced to participate in depositions, except in certain circumstances. Often, these interviews involve a verbal examination followed by cross-examination from the opposing side, which causes them to explain multiple times what happened to them. These young survivors should not have to relive horrific situations by telling their stories over and over again.

We know 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in Indiana experience sexual violence during their lifetimes, and this figure does not even take into account how many survivors do not report the crimes committed against them. Now, through Senate Enrolled Act 146, these Hoosiers are guaranteed certain rights and can connect with a free professional advocate who can advise, comfort and support them through every step of the legal process.

These traumatic experiences leave emotional and physical scars which can take years to mend. While seeking justice for these crimes can be an overwhelming and confusing experience, these new laws can help survivors as they heal. It has been my honor to vote in favor of these new policies, and I remain committed to finding even more ways to support our most vulnerable Hoosiers.

Jerry Torr represents District 39 in the Indiana House of Representatives. He is a Carmel resident.


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