Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Protection-- it's not just for the over 18's and the married folks

Many people aren't aware that domestic violence laws only cover married folks or parents. Teens experiencing violence in relationships rarely turn to adults for help (see below) and they have no protection from the law. I first learned of this problem when attending a symposium led by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum. Learn what you can do below-- Patti

Day One is advocating to increase the legal protection available to teenage and other victims of domestic violence in New York State. They are looking for orgs and individuals to sign onto the New York Statewide Coalition for Fair Access to Family Court and support the passage of New York State Senate Bill S.6783, which will expand the protection available to individuals in dating relationships, cohabitants and LGBTQ victims of relationship abuse.

The New York State Family Court Act restricts access to orders of protection (OPs) to individuals currently or formerly married, blood relations, or parents of the same child. As a result, individuals in dating relationships, cohabitants, LGBTQ partners and many elderly are excluded from the protection available in the civil courts. These groups must request OPs from the criminal court, a system constructed for punishment, not protection, where victims are not provided with attorneys and face a far higher standard of proof.

Most importantly for youth, the entry point for the criminal justice system is the police, and most young people will remain at risk rather than seek assistance from law enforcement. In one study, less than 3% of students reported relationship abuse to an authority figure.

As a result, youth and others lacking access to Family Court are less prone to come forward, face more challenges, and when they do choose to seek help are less likely to obtain protection from the legal system.

The Coalition will keep you apprised of activities related to the pending legislation, and action you and let you know how organization can get involved.

Contact Stephanie Nilva at snilva@dayoneny.org for more info

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