April 27, 2009

Assembly Passes Domestic Violence Legislation

Package protects victims from discrimination, provides privacy

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Judiciary Committee Chair Helene Weinstein today announced the house's passage of a legislative package aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence. These measures were passed in conjunction with National Crime Victims Week, April 26-May 2.

The legislative package includes bills that prohibit discriminatory practices against victims of domestic violence in regards to housing (A.1055/Destito) and in the workplace (A.755/Paulin). Another measure allows domestic violence victims to take an unpaid leave of absence from work for up to 90 days within a 12 month period to address the myriad of issues surrounding a domestic violence situation, without fear of losing their job (A. 438B/John).

"Domestic violence is the number one cause of injury to women in the United States, and as more families are affected by this economic downturn, we hear of more incidents of violence in the home," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "We have a duty to protect those seeking refuge and protection against their aggressors. This legislative package helps us fulfill that duty, by protecting victims from discrimination and protecting their privacy as they begin the long process of recovery."

Nationally, attacks by male partners against their female intimate partners result in more injuries requiring medical treatment than muggings, rapes and auto accidents combined. The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports a significant increase in calls, with half of callers admitting a recent change in the family’s financial situation.

"Victims of domestic violence often suffer long term physical and emotional consequences requiring medical and counseling services as a result of domestic violence perpetrated against them. Many women stay with their abusers because they lack various resources including alternative financial resources for themselves and their children to address a range of obstacles facing them as a result of the abuse," said Weinstein (D-Brooklyn). "These measures are a step in the right direction as they provide protection for victims against discrimination in the workplace and when looking for housing, and secure address confidentiality, to help them provide stability and safety as they beging to rebuild their lives."

This package also includes bills that protect the privacy of domestic violence victims, with measures that allow for victims to keep their location private (A.2858A/Weinstein) and provide unlisted telephone numbers at no cost for victims, (A.6509/Rivera,N).

Other bills in this legislative package would: