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Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Laws

Protecting Survivors of Sexual Abuse

If you experienced gender-motivated sexual abuse or sexual assault in the past, it may not be too late to hold perpetrators responsible. Survivors of gender-based violence in New York City have more time to bring civil legal action against their abusers under the New York City Gender-Motivated Violence Act 

Currently, there is a temporary lookback window that lifts the statute of limitations on such civil cases. For survivors who may have previously missed their opportunity to file a claim, this window will close on March 1, 2025. So, the time to take action is now.  

This critical legislation expands the protections available to survivors of gender-motivated violence, helping them find relief—and peace of mind knowing they are vindicated for the harm they experienced.  

The civil sexual abuse attorneys at Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP, we are passionate about helping survivors get the help and support they need to focus on healing. You can trust our team to work tirelessly to win for you. Schedule a free consultation to learn more about how we can help.  

Contact us for a 100% free and confidential consultation
or call us 24/7 at (212) 684-1880.

Understanding Gender-Motivated Violence 

Gender-based violence is violence directed at an individual based on their gender or violence that disproportionately impacts individuals of a particular gender. It is a human rights violation and a form of discrimination.  

Types of Gender-Based Violence 

Gender-based violence is especially pervasive because it takes many forms:  

  • Psychological: This form of abuse subjects the victim to psychological trauma. Psychologically abusive behaviors include coercion, controlling, blackmail and economic violence.  
  • Physical: Pushing, beating, strangling, and other types of physical abuse can lead to mental distress, bodily injuries, health problems and even death.  
  • Sexual: Sexual violence is nonconsensual sexual acts and attempts to obtain sexual acts. Sexual trafficking is one form of gender-based sexual violence.  

Domestic violence is one of the most common types of gender-motivated violence. It takes place between intimate partners or within a family unit and can include all forms of abuse: physical, psychological, and sexual.  

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S. every minute on average. If you are experiencing gender-based violence, help is available. The National Domestic Abuse Hotline is available 24/7 online or by phone: 800-799-SAFE (7233.)  

What is the New York City Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law? 

As a victim of gender-motivated violence, your safety is always a priority. Once you are safe and away from your abuser, consider taking action under the NYC Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law (VGMVPL).  

Passed in 2000, the New York City VGMVPL allows civil actions for victims of gender-motivated “crimes of violence.” The VGMVPL protects people who live and work in New York City and allows victims to collect financial damages from perpetrators. It is more expansive than other legislation in a few key ways.  

First, the VGMVPL allows civil action for crimes of violence, regardless of whether a conviction occurs. Under the law, a crime of violence is defined as “an act or series of acts that would constitute a misdemeanor or felony against the person as defined in state or federal law or that would constitute a misdemeanor or felony… whether or not those acts have resulted in criminal charges, prosecution, or conviction.”  

Next, the law allows victims to sue for crimes beyond sexual misconduct. The VGMVPL covers assaults motivated by the victim’s gender—even in the absence of a sex crime. This distinction is important because it acknowledges how verbal and physical assaults are just as harmful as sexual abuse. 

The VGMVPL also allows victims to sue the individual perpetrator and the institutions who employed, harbored, or protected them. Survivors can bring a claim against any party “who commits, directs, enables, participates in, or conspires in the commission of” gender-motivated violence. This makes schools, churches, and workplaces responsible for abuse they allow or ignore. 

How Does the Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law Change the  Statute of Limitations?

Finally, the VGMVPL extends the time victims of gender-based violence have to file a claim. As of March 1, 2023, the lookback window to file a claim for past offenses was extended two years, giving victims until March 1, 2025 to commence a civil lawsuit. It also extends the statute of limitations from seven to nine years, like cases involving minors, for example.  

How to File a Gender-Motivated Violence Lawsuit 

If you are considering filing a civil claim, a case evaluation with New York personal injury lawyers is the first step. During this initial meeting, we’ll discuss your situation and consider the facts to determine if you have grounds to sue. Under the VGMVPL, two things must be true:  

  • An injury occurred from a crime of violence. 
  • The perpetrator was motivated (at least in part) by malice based on gender.  

Understanding Civil Cases Versus Criminal Charges  

It’s important to note that while a conviction proves that a crime occurred for VGMVPL purposes, it is not required to pursue civil action. You do not have to file a criminal complaint to sue in civil court.  

However, the behavior in question must constitute a crime under New York City law, regardless of the outcome of criminal proceedings. Do not give up hope if your case does not qualify under VGMVPL. We explore all possible remedies to hold perpetrators accountable under New York law.  

Abuses that fall under the VGMVPL are criminal offenses. A person who commits these crimes can potentially be sentenced to prison or required to register as a sex offender, which carries several restrictions for the offender. However, this is not the same as filing a civil lawsuit, which intends to compensate the plaintiff. 

Civil claims provide victims with an outlet for recovering compensation for the mental anguish and emotional distress they have endured as a result of sexual abuse or assault. Although money cannot reverse these effects, civil claims are a way for victims to achieve justice outside of criminal court. 

Damages That Can Be Recovered 

In a civil lawsuit, three types of damages are possible:  

  • Economic damages: These are direct financial losses resulting from a gender-motivated crime, including medical bills, lost income, and attorneys’ fees.  
  • Noneconomic damages: This is compensation for non-monetary losses, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, and the loss of enjoyment of life due to gender-based violence.  
  • Punitive damages: In some cases, additional punitive damages are imposed to punish the perpetrator and deter them from reoffending. 

Damages vary on a case-by-case basis. Your legal team at Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP calculates damages based on the ways gender-based violence has impacted your life, from work and family to your physical and emotional well-being.  

Let Us Help You Get the Justice You Deserve 

For more than 50 years, Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP has advocated and supported clients across New York. We are passionate about protecting survivors and are committed to holding the person or institution who harmed you accountable so that you may begin to find closure and healing.   

Gender violence may feel isolating, but you are not alone. We handle claims with the utmost compassion and discretion, protecting your interests every step of the way. Call or connect online to schedule a free case review today. Based in Manhattan, our firm represents clients across New York City, New York State, and nationwide.  

Call (212) 684-1880 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation with our sexual abuse and assault lawyers in New York.