Assemblywoman Jaffee Passes Legislation Aiding and Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence

March 19, 2010

Assemblywoman Jaffee (D-Suffern) announced Assembly passage of a legislative package she supported to protect victims of domestic violence and give them the resources needed to stay safe and get their lives back on track.

“Domestic violence attacks, whether they cause physical or psychological harm, have a lasting impact on victims and their entire family,” Assemblywoman Jaffee said. “Victims often do not have a support network or the resources to make it through this devastating time. We have a duty to put as many protections in place as we can to help reduce the number of domestic violence victims in New York.”

A recent study found that one in four women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime, and nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. Here in New York State, approximately 450,000 domestic incidents are reported annually to police departments.

Domestic violence crimes are especially wrenching because the victim has a close, oftentimes intimate, personal relationship with the abuser. Victims of domestic violence require special measures to protect them from the physical, emotional and financial problems caused by their abusers and to help them heal. “We are grateful to the Assembly for taking a strong stand to bring the needs and concerns of battered women and their children into the legislative process during this difficult year,” stated Rockland Family Shelter Executive Director, Carolyn Fish. “We are pleased that the bill will add to resources needed and improve sanctions that will increase safety for battered women and their children.”

The Assembly passed a package of bills that would prohibit employers from discriminating against victims of domestic violence and a right for the domestic violence victim to a reasonable accommodation from the employer of unpaid leave to deal with legal and medical issues relating to the domestic incident. Victims sometimes suffer housing discrimination but the bills would forbid landlords and sellers of property from denying an individual the right to purchase, rent, lease or inhabit housing because of involvement in a domestic dispute. Privacy though is important for domestic violence victims. These bills cover that by establishing the “Address Confidentiality Program” for domestic violence victims, by authorizing the secretary of state to accept service of process for victims of domestic violence and their children and it would allow domestic abuse victims who have an order of protection to obtain an unlisted telephone number without charge.

The Assembly also passed a bill that would 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. This along with the bill to expand the class of domestic violence victims who may cast special ballots in elections to include non-relatives and individuals who have suffered emotional harm at the hand of an abuser brings about more protections.

“In many cases, orders of protection are critical to the safety of the victim and their families,” Assemblywoman Jaffee said. “Measures included in the Assembly’s package of bills strengthen the laws that are on the books and add new provisions that give victims the peace of mind that they are protected.”

To further help victims of domestic abuse, the Assembly passed a bill Assemblywoman Jaffee supported that would 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. The measure re-enforces New York’s zero-tolerance policy about domestic violence.

“Domestic violence is a devastating crime of enormous magnitude,” Assemblywoman Jaffee said. “This package of legislation helps ensure the safety of victims and empowers them with the resources they need to move forward.”