New laws aimed at protecting domestic violence victims as they rebuild their lives

Photo by Kevin Coughlin, Office of the Governor

On Oct. 28, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed domestic violence legislation meant help survivors of domestic abuse protect their finances and maintain their privacy and safety as they move forward with their lives.

“People’s lives can change if we help them escape the cycle of violence,” Hochul tweeted after the bill signings.

Legislation S.1557/A.4496 requires the release of individuals from utility, phone and television contracts in instances of domestic violence. Sponsors Sen. Kevin Parker, D-Brooklyn, and Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa, D-Inwood, say this will help victims of domestic violence avoid the responsibility of paying for services at an unsafe location which they have fled to escape their abusers.

This will also take some pressure off of individuals who are in the process of trying to flee, since they will no longer have to worry about financial penalties and can focus on getting to safety.

“Requiring utility companies to release survivors of domestic violence from their contracts freeing up funds for necessities as they get their feet on the ground in a new home and keeping those new homes’ addresses confidential ensures survivors can live there safely,” Hochul said.

Legislation S.1555-a/A.465-a will make it easier for a victim of domestic violence to apply to have their voter registration records hidden from the public.

Sponsors Sen. Zellnor Myrie, D-Brooklyn, and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, D-Queens, say their bill will ensure a domestic violence survivor’s safety by keeping registered voters’ names and addresses from being released.

Now voters are permitted to make an affirmation directly to the Board of Elections to keep their information private for four years. Previously, victims of domestic abuse would have to go through the Supreme Court to ensure their privacy which is a longer process.

“No survivor should have to give up their right to vote in order to protect themselves from abuse,” Rozic said.

According to The Domestic Violence Hotline’s website, 1 out of 3 women and 1 out of 4 men in the U.S. will experience rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner.

“The unfortunate truth is that New York State needs to do more to ensure protection for victims of domestic violence. As survivors work to move forward with their lives they need to be able to break away from utility contracts without penalty,” Parker said.