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New bills would add legal protections for survivors of gender violence

Nov 29, 2017

Survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking would get more support under a package of five bills introduced in the state House.

Supporters say the goal of the legislation is to fill gaps in state law that leave survivors without adequate protection.

"Every survivor should have the resources they need to put their lives back on track without fear of intimidation as the try to move forward," said Rep. Kristy Pagan, D-Canton.

Two of the bills would protect survivors against housing discrimination and against evictions arising from domestic violence-related disturbances.

Another would allow survivors to get unemployment compensation if they have to leave their job because of violence or stalking.

Another would give survivors sick leave to take care of medical and legal issues related to their domestic violence situations.

Finally, one bill would require someone who has been served a personal protection order for domestic violence to turn in or sell their firearms.

"The more survivors have support and resources, the more likely they are to use those resources, which ideally will end the cycle of violence," said Pagan.

"A lot of survivors unfortunately do not report," Pagan said. "But the statistics that we have state that nearly three in ten women will experience some sort of physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime - well as  one in ten men. So this issue crosses gender. It crosses really all walks of life and socio-economic status."

Efforts to pass similar legislation two years ago were not successful.

The five bill package includes H.B. 5247, 5248, 5249, 5250, and 5251.