Assemblymember Frontus Passes Legislation to Support, Empower Victims of Domestic Violence

Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus (D-Brooklyn) announced that she helped pass a series of bills to expand support services and help eliminate barriers to justice for domestic violence survivors.

“Intimate partner violence inflicts trauma and pain on countless New Yorkers all across our state, many of whom suffer in silence,” said Frontus. “Domestic violence victims need to know that we have their backs and will support them throughout the healing process. The legislation we passed today will help remove the obstacles that can prevent victims from breaking free from their abusers and seeking justice.”

To help survivors achieve and maintain financial security, the Assembly legislative package includes a measure that prohibits employers from discriminating against domestic violence victims and ensures victims receive reasonable workplace accommodations (A.5618). Frontus also helped pass a bill to streamline the early lease termination process for survivors and bar landlords from disclosing the termination of tenancy to future landlords (A.4267).

The Assembly’s legislation also:

  • allows victims of domestic violence to cancel telephone or cable contracts without incurring cancellation fees (A.5318);
  • requires health insurers to provide survivors with the option to have claim information and benefits sent to an alternative mailing address (A.2832);
  • allows victims to vote by special ballot by mail (A.219-A); and
  • requires hospitals to establish policies and procedures regarding identifying and notifying victims of available services (A.2850-A).

“If and when victims of domestic violence are ready to hold their abusers accountable in a court of law, they should not be faced with an unsympathetic legal system that only serves to re-traumatize them,” said Frontus. “We must ensure all survivors have the opportunity to seek justice and compensation for the horror they’ve endured.”

To help ensure justice prevails, the legislative package allows domestic violence survivors to receive damages for economic and non-economic losses from all defendants found liable in civil court, and extends the statute of limitations for a civil action to recover damages for domestic violence injuries from one to two years (A.5614; A.1945).

In addition, Frontus passed measures to:

  • ensure victims understand their legal rights and access to services during criminal and family court proceedings by simplifying the language in court documents (A.7395); and
  • expand the definition in the Social Services Law of “victim of domestic violence” to include victims of identity theft, grand larceny and coercion, and assures that they are eligible for certain victim services (A.5608).

Frontus has always been a staunch advocate for domestic violence victims. Earlier this year, she helped pass the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, which gives judges greater discretion when sentencing defendants who are victims of domestic violence when their abuse was a significant contributing factor in their offense (A.3974).

For victims of domestic violence, help and support is a phone call away. The New York City Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-621-HOPE (4673) or 311 and provides immediate safety planning, shelter assistance and other important resources. For more information, visit the New York State Office of Victim Services website at ovs.ny.gov or the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence website at opdv.ny.gov.