“A client of mine in her 70s told me her story for the very first time, having carried the secret in shame for 50 years,” Fine said. “Even then she wept as if it had just happened.”

Many survivors will wait days, months or years to disclose their abuse, said Julie Donelon, director of the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault. Some never do, and the reasons for this are complex.

Often, they feel guilty and blame themselves for the abuse or are frightened that nobody will believe them, she said. They also risk alienation by talking.

“They’re often protecting their families and the institutions where the abuse occurred,” Donelon said.

Rep. Jim Neely, R-Cameron, vice chair of the committee, said lawmakers should also consider making priests mandated reporters of sexual abuse.

“I believe that bill will be coming forward in this committee,” Neely said, though he did not specify when.

Committee Chairwoman Rep. Sheila Solon, R-St. Joseph, who sponsored the bill, said people who are abused as children will sometimes repress their memories.