Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) announced the Assembly passed her resolution urging the New York State congressional delegation to reauthorize the federal Violence Against the Women Act. Additionally, Jaffee co-sponsored and encouraged her colleagues to pass several measures to provide more assistance and increase protections for victims of domestic violence.
“The Violence Against Women Act matters so deeply because domestic violence and sexual assault are pervasive, life-threatening crimes that affect millions of individuals across our nation – regardless of age, economic status, race, religion or education," said Jaffee in support of her resolution. "In order to break the cycle of violence, we must continue to provide services that protect these victims, so they don’t have to live in the grip of constant, gnawing terror.”
According to a recent study, one in four women has experienced domestic violence, nearly three out of four people personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence, and three women on average are murdered each day by their intimate partners. In New York State, 450,000 incidents of domestic violence are reported each year.
“Victims of domestic violence experience physical pain, emotional trauma and financial hardships that can be especially severe since these crimes are committed by someone with whom the victim has a close, often intimate, personal relationship,” Jaffee said in the statement released by her Pearl River office.
She noted it is critical to pass laws that provide the needed assistance for domestic violence victims to rebuild their lives.
The Assembly’s package of bills would:
- Prohibit employment discrimination against domestic violence victims
- Prohibit housing discrimination against domestic violence victims by forbidding landlords and property sellers from denying an individual the right to purchase, rent, lease or inhabit housing because they are victims of domestic violence
- Require criminal or family court judges to inquire about the defendant’s or respondent’s ownership or possession of a firearm when orders of protection are sought
- Require the mandatory revocation or suspension of a firearms license for an individual against whom an order or temporary order of protection has been issued relating to certain domestic violence incidents
- Make it illegal for an individual to possess a firearm if he or she has committed a family offense by adding “domestic violence offenses” to the list of serious offenses for which purchasing or possessing a license for a firearm, rifle or shotgun would constitute a class A misdemeanor
- Establish the felony crime of aggravated family offense when a person has committed a specified domestic violence offense and has been convicted of one or more domestic violence offenses within the past five years
- Require orders of protection issued in family court to be translated into the native language of the individuals involved
- Expose individuals or parties who fail to obey or enforce an order of protection to joint liability for all non-economic damages sought by a claimant after a fact-finding by a judge or jury
- Require hospitals to establish policies and procedures regarding domestic violence; establish ongoing training programs on domestic violence for staff, and designate a hospital staff member to coordinate services to victims
- Extend the maximum amount of days victims of domestic violence may stay in residential programs from 135 days to 180 days ensuring additional time for them to secure permanent housing.
“This package of bills stands up for domestic violence victims by helping make sure they have better protections in place and the quality aftercare they deserve,” Jaffee said. “The legislation also sends a strong message to domestic violence offenders: New York State takes this crime very seriously and it won’t be tolerated here.”