Assemblywoman Joyner: How Technology Can Protect Domestic Violence Victims

Domestic violence can hurt our families and our community, which is why we need to be proactive in spreading awareness and improving access to safety for victims. Being involved in such an altercation is a life changing experience, but it doesn't have to be a permanent scar.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month; It is a perfect opportunity for us to speak up about how victims can gain the assistance they need to rebuild, and rehab their lives for the better. Being subjected to such abusive behavior, whether it is among family members or intimate partners, includes forms of abuse that can range from physical to emotional, sexual and even financial. And in most of situations, domestic violence has the power to increase instances of poverty, unemployment, and lead to homelessness and detrimental health outcomes.

How pervasive is domestic violence in our society? In 2013, the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence notes that the New York City Police Department responded to nearly 285,000 domestic violence incidents within the City, and almost 1 out of every 5 homicides in the City are family related. While there was a seven percent dip in total calls to domestic violence hotlines across the state in 2014, a total of nearly 281,000 domestic violence calls were logged.

However, increasing access to safety for victims from their abusers remains a major concern. Right now, those suffering from domestic violence abuse are forced to travel to court in order to secure an order of protection against their abuser. And in 2014, there was a two percent decline in total orders of protections that were issued to victims of domestic violence by New York State Courts, which indicates there is a need to ensure protections are more easily accessible and attainable. This is why legislation I passed in April is so important. Passing the New York State Assembly and New York State Senate, Assembly Bill A.6262 will create a pilot program that protects domestic violence victims by speeding up the process for obtaining temporary orders of protection. Signed into law by Governor Cuomo as part of a package of legislation that will protect and further women’s equality in New York, those suffering from domestic violence can feel safer faster by requesting these orders electronically.

We use technology every single day to make our lives easier. Now, we have the remarkable opportunity to allow technology to enhance the implementation of this very important law to which will benefit people that need it the most and eliminate any obstacles that could impact their safety.

In order to approve safe outcomes and access to safety for victims, the legislation will amend the family court act and the judiciary law, which will allow the Office of the Court Administration to develop the pilot program to permit domestic violence victims to electronically file protection orders and issue such orders remotely. Also, a reporting requirement is included, which will require the Chief Administrator of the Courts to submit regular reports to the Governor and the Legislature.

Ensuring that domestic violence is limited in its ability to infect our families and our communities is necessary. Whether it is in the Bronx, New York City, or across New York State, victims need to know that assistance is available, including increased safety and protections are easily available in order to mend their lives and their families back to full health.

Latoya Joyner is the Assemblywoman for the 77th Assembly District in the Bronx