Throughout the years that I have been writing this blog, I ask myself where I have not only taken a strong stand but devoted a substantial portion of my legislative efforts to righting an ongoing wrong.
One of those positions is domestic violence. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it is important that we continue to promote policies that support the victims of domestic violence – not just this month, but all year round. To that end, I have a number of proposals that focus on protecting and supporting victims of domestic violence.
I'm providing a list of my efforts below, but you can easily review them more in depth at https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillsByNumber.asp
- S382 Requires uniform response procedures for all domestic crisis teams established or participated in by law enforcement agencies and strengthens statewide supervision over teams.
- S383 Establishes standards for Batterers' Intervention Programs in domestic violence cases.
- S384 Establishes certain requirements for domestic violence training for certain judges and judicial personnel.
- S385 Requires training for law enforcement officers and assistant county prosecutors concerning handling of domestic violence cases.
- S386 Establishes mandatory domestic violence training for municipal prosecutors.
- S388 Establishes "Monica's Law" concerning domestic violence risk assessment pilot program.
- S918 Establishes four-year pilot program in Ocean County for electronic monitoring of certain domestic violence offenders; designated as "Lisa's Law"; appropriates $2.5 million.
If you wonder about the need for my legislation and its focus, you only need to examine domestic violence statistics in New Jersey. Consider this:
- 26.2% of New Jersey women and 29.3% of New Jersey men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner rape and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.
- There were 65,060 domestic violence offenses reported by the police in 2012, a 7% decrease from the 70,311 reported in 2011.
- Children were involved or present during 29% of all domestic violence offenses occurring in 2012. Specifically, 4% (2,298) were involved, and 25% (16,534) were present.
- Wives were the victims in 16% (10,829) and ex-wives were the victims in 3% (2,187) of the reported domestic violence offenses in 2012. Overall, females were victims in 75% (48,697) of all domestic violence offenses.
- The number of domestic violence complaints that had prior court orders issued against the offender decreased from 13,099 in 2011 to 11,494 in 2012. This is a decrease of 12%.
- Domestic violence offenses arising from a dating relationship accounted for 14% (9,370) of the state total.
Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Domestic Violence in New Jersey.
But if my bills are essential as policy bolstered by these bleak statistics, let's never forget who absorbs the brunt of mistreatment.
It is the victims.
These bills represent policy initiatives that are critically important both now and in the long term. They are my efforts to protect domestic violence victims (including the children who fall into this orbit). It is to these, the victims, that I have an urgent message.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, stop everything else and call for help. Call 1-800 572-SAFE (7233). Don't wait, call now, and all you have to say is, "I need help," in your own words. You will find it. This hot line is confidential, bilingual, and provides access to the deaf and hearing impaired. Most important, the hot line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you have been a victim of sexual assault, call 1-800-601-7200. This number will connect you with professionals who provide assistance and referrals and route the calls to the nearby rape crisis center.
More information on these and other hot lines is available at https://www.nj.gov/dcf/women/hotlines.
I have tried to be diligent in my efforts to promote bills directed toward ending domestic violence and protecting victims. But I need your help. Join me in the struggle, and if you are a victim, call for help NOW.
That's my take, what's yours?