TRENTON – In a move to strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a series of bills sponsored by Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz, Senator Vin Gopal, Senator Linda Greenstein, and Senator Sandra B. Cunningham to expand protections and resources for domestic violence survivors.
“Domestic violence is a horrible reality in our society,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “New Jersey has made great strides in training law-enforcement, prosecutors and social service workers in how to deal with this issue on all levels, but we have to ensure that these resources are accessible to survivors of diverse backgrounds. We must eliminate the language barrier in educating survivors of their rights and notices and this legislation is the first step.”
The first bill, S-1000, sponsored by Majority Leader Ruiz and Senator Gopal, would require certain domestic violence restraining orders and notices to domestic violence victims to be issued in other languages in addition to English.
“It is a sad reality to see people being killed by partners they once trusted, and we must do whatever we can to safeguard surviving victims and their children from further abuse that could be fatal,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “With these bills, we can ensure that a wide range of survivors from diverse backgrounds are able to adequately navigate the justice system and maximize available resources.”
The second bill, S-1516, sponsored by Senators Greenstein and Gopal, would permit courts to include in domestic violence restraining orders a provision making the order applicable to a pregnant victim’s child upon birth of the child.
Under the bill, the provisions of the protection order will apply to the victim’s child immediately upon birth. Such a provision would only apply after the child is born.
“Receiving protections within the justice system can be extremely time consuming and strenuous,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Extending domestic violence provisions to children upon birth relieves the new parent of worry and eliminates a vulnerable period for an abuser to access the child.”
The last bill, S-1809, sponsored by Senators Ruiz and Cunningham, would add “coercive control” to the definition of domestic violence. The bill would define “coercive control” to include the threatening of loved ones and the deprivation of basic necessities.
“The crime of domestic violence is often a gradual escalation of controlling behaviors that seek to isolate and weaken the victim, mentally and physically. By addressing and prosecuting these ‘gradual’ steps, survivors will be able to seek justice before the abuse becomes fatal,” added Senator Ruiz.
The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee also advanced legislation, S-3086, to establish the Division of Violence Intervention and Victim Assistance within the Department of Law and Public Safety to centralize the State’s response to crime victims and trauma survivors.
The bills were voted out of committee by a vote of 11-0, 11-0, and 11-0, respectively.