Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced he helped pass a legislative package to address domestic violence in New York and help keep victims safe, including passage of the Domestic Violence Escalation Prevention Act and a measure to require hospitals to train staff to recognize the signs of abuse and link victims to support services (A.4014).
Domestic violence is a horrifying crime, and far too many victims are afraid to seek help or are met with challenges that make it hard for them to escape their abuser, Steck said. We must do all we can to support these brave survivors and help them recover.
The Assemblys legislative package includes a measure to prohibit employers from discriminating against victims of domestic violence as well as allow these employees reasonable accommodations in the workplace as they address issues, such as counseling or court appearances, related to their abuse (A.1481-A).
Many abusers control their partners by keeping them financially dependent, Steck said. This measure will help ensure that victims can find jobs and independently support themselves.
To help keep victims safe, the Violence Escalation Prevention Act would help keep guns out of certain perpetrators hands (A.5025). Another measure co-sponsored by Steck aims to close a potentially deadly loophole in state penal law by requiring abusers who were convicted of felony and misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence to surrender their firearms (A.980). Current law only applies to abusers convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes.
Other measures would help victims distance themselves from their abusers by allowing them to break a telephone, cable or broadband contract, as well as a shared or family plan wireless contract, without certain penalties (A.1056, A.946) and authorizing health insurers to provide victims of domestic violence the ability to have claim information and benefits sent to an alternative mailing address (A.4060).
Additionally, the Assemblys legislation would allow judges to use their discretion when sentencing victims of domestic violence for crimes they commit as a direct result of their abuse, which can lead to shorter sentences or participation in alternative-to-incarceration (AIT) programs (A.3110). The measure would also allow victims who are currently incarcerated to apply for resentencing.
Further, the Assemblys legislation would also ensure victims of domestic violence understand their rights during criminal and family court proceedings by simplifying the language in court documents (A.5921), allow victims of domestic violence to receive economic and non-economic damages from any or all defendants found liable in civil court (A.1390) and increase the statute of limitations for crimes of domestic violence in civil court proceedings from one to two years (A.1516).
Domestic violence is an all-too-common tragedy, Steck said. Victims need to know that New York stands with them and that abuse has no place in our communities. Ill keep fighting to make that message loud and clear.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please know that help and support are always available. New Yorks toll-free hotline is open 24 hours a day at 1-800-942-6906. For additional 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. There are also local organizations which help victims of domestic violence, including the Sexual Assault and Crime Victims Assistance Program Samaritan Hospital available 2-4hours a day at (518) 271-3257. Additionally, Equinox Domestic Violence Services provides emergency shelter, counseling and other essential services and can be reached 24-hours a day at (518) 432-7865.