Legislators Announce Bills to Protect Domestic Violence Survivors

LANSING — State Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit), Rep. Tenisha Yancey (D-Harper Woods) and Rep. Kara Hope (D-Holt), along with members of the state’s Progressive Women’s Caucus, today announced legislation that would help support domestic violence survivors as they try to flee abusive relationships and rebuild their lives. 

“Michigan can be a leader in the fight to hold abusers accountable and expand the rights and protections of survivors, and it starts with this legislation,” Sen. Santana said. “Domestic violence is a very serious issue that knows no bounds. It is imperative that we work together to create an environment in our state where survivors are given the protections, and resources, they deserve as they work to rebuild their lives.”

The legislation introduced includes bills sponsored by:

The bills are designed to ensure that some of the legal gaps that fail to protect survivors in Michigan are addressed.

“Domestic violence is an issue we cannot allow to remain inadequately addressed for the sake of Michigan survivors, their families and the future of our state,” Rep. Yancey said. “We have a responsibility to address the gaps present in state law that leave survivors without the proper support and protections they need, not only as elected officials, but as human beings recognizing the humanity of our fellow community members. For survivors of domestic violence, inaction by our state can mean the difference between life and death, which is exactly the injustice our bills seek to make right for thousands of Michiganders.”

According to the nonprofit HAVEN, one in three Michigan families are impacted by domestic violence, and more than 100 domestic violence-related homicides occur in the state every year.

“Survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking deserve to feel protected, supported and at home in our state,” Rep. Hope said. “There is no excuse for the glaring holes in our laws, and there is no excuse for the decades of failure to address these gaps on the state level. Our bills take tangible steps forward to ensure Michigan survivors have the fullest extent of protections, services, resources and support they deserve when getting out of abusive relationships.” 

Ashton Brei Steele is a domestic abuse survivor, and the founder and president of Her World Initiative, an Ann Arbor nonprofit organization that works to raise awareness about domestic violence issues through education and advocacy efforts. She said she is grateful for the topic of domestic violence being brought to the forefront in the state legislature. 

“Living in a violent relationship is horrific, and oftentimes leaving is far more dangerous than staying,” Ms. Brei Steele said. “As the laws are currently written, justice is typically unattainable for survivors of domestic violence and their children. A revolution within civil and criminal law is absolutely necessary to disempower perpetrators of abuse and allow victims an opportunity at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This package of bills is a great start.” 

In addition to this legislation, resolutions were recently introduced in both chambers to recognize October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, as well as urge the U.S. Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

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Credit: David Olds, Michigan Senate Democrats


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