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Bill would increase time rape victims have to file charges - KOAM TV 7

Kansas bill would increase time rape victims have to file charges

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The act of rape can create pain and suffering for not only the victim, but for friends and family as well.  It can take years for victims to recover the strength to come forward and seek justice.

Currently, in Kansas, victims have five years to prosecute their case but new legislation would give victims more time to heal before taking action.

A million things can run through a victims head, even more when it comes to rape and sexual assault says Rebecca Brubaker of the Safehouse Crisis Center in Pittsburg:  "'How could I have prevented this? What could I have done differently?  Is this my fault?  What happened?'  We know it's not their fault.  We know that they're the victim and the perpetrator used power and control over them."

Victims of rape experience a vast amount of trauma and are given little time to heal before their case has to prosecuted.

"The last thing on their mind is prosecution or reporting the case," says Brubaker.  "They just need the time to recover from the medical issues.  They need time to process psychologically.  They need time to heal."

The House has unanimously approved a bill that would allow a rape case to be prosecuted up to 10 years after the crime if the victim is at least 18 years old.  Kansas is currently one of 10 states that require a rape to be prosecuted within five years. 

"Five years is just often not enough time, it takes a while to grow up, mature a little, come to grip with what happened to you and realize it might be in the best interest for you and other victims for you to come forward and say something," says Kansas District 3 Representative Julie Menghini.  "Ten years gives them a lot more time to deal with all these things and decide to step forward."

Pittsburg State University psychology professor Dr. Julie Allison says the mind of a rape victim is sensitive and the symptoms they experience after can be scary.

"General responses are complete confusion, terror, trembling, shaking, feeling guilt, even though it's not a feeling they need to have - it's not their fault," says Dr. Allison.

Legislators say these symptoms can be put to ease with more time, time that this bill would provide.

Both the House and Senate have passed their own identical versions of the bill and sent it to the other chamber.  Once one of the bill's is approved it will head to the desk of the governor.

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