Domestic Violence Victims Threatened by Passage Of Amendment
Stacy Ruble, Domestic Violence Coordinator for the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, highlights reasons for concern in article published today:
…the threat of having domestic violence protections taken away from unmarried couples is a real one.
“Our concern is for all of those who will be hurt between when the amendment passes and when the Supreme Court makes a decision — that’s if they decide domestic violence laws are OK the way they are,” she said.
“If not, we will need to develop a long-range plan to protect domestic violence victims. In the short term, if it passes we will have to create a plan to address legal battles, educate advocates, legal aid attorneys and Commonwealth attorneys and look at how to serve victims,” she said.
Ruble said the procedure for responding to domestic violence complaints involves a police officer going to the victim’s home, filing a report, arresting the perpetrator and transporting the victim to a safe place, if needed. At that point the victim can get a protective order against his or her abuser, which indicates where the abuser can and cannot go in relation to the victim.
“If domestic violence laws can only cover married couples, the most the police can do is charge [the abuser] with simple assault and battery,” she said. “There is no protective order or transportation to a safe place. If the victim makes it to a shelter, they will stay longer because there is no protective order.”
Ruble said businesses and apartment complexes can file no trespassing charges against an abuser, but they are not as effective as a protective order. “You don’t have an automatic arrest if someone breaks a no trespassing law,” she said.
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