By Ramona du Houx

AUGUSTA – During a public hearing on March 17, 2021 survivors of childhood sexual abuse spoke in favor of a bill sponsored by Rep. Lori Gramlich that would help victims access justice.

“As a kid, I knew I couldn’t change what happened to me, but I also knew that, when I was a grown-up, I would do my best to make things better for others. As a social worker, I have worked my entire professional life to bring systemic change and to give voice to fellow survivors,” said Rep. Gramlich.

Rep. Gramlich’s bill would ensure judges and justices receive training in regards to both criminal and civil actions based on child sexual abuse. She also seeks to extend the time period in which survivors can seek justice through the courts.

“I want fellow survivors to hear this: You are not defined by your abuse,” said Rep. Gramlich. “You deserve to be heard and believed. You deserve justice. That is what this bill is about.”

Many survivors of childhood sexual abuse wait to report or never report their abuse, even into adulthood. Developmentally, children do not have the emotional and cognitive skills to process such traumatic experiences.

Rep. Michael Brennan, D-Portland, has introduced a similar bill. Both Brennan’s and Gramlich’s proposals will be considered by the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee in the coming weeks, at which time committee members will have the opportunity to offer amendments and make a recommendation to the full Legislature.

Rep. Gramlich is a longtime social worker and public health advocate who is currently serving her second term in the Maine House. She is a member of the Taxation Committee and the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

Rep. Gramlich lives in Old Orchard Beach, where she and her husband are small business owners. She has worked at the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and served as communications director for Maine Senate President Beverly Daggett. She served on the Portland School Committee from 2005 to 2008, where she served as chair of Legislative Affairs and Policy Committees and served on the Finance Committee. Rep. Gramlich is field coordinator and adjunct faculty member at the University of Southern Maine School of Social Work. She previously served as executive director of the National Association of Social Workers, Maine Chapter.

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