Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) welcomed Smithtown resident and reigning Mrs. New York United States 2007 Lori Donaudy to Albany as he introduced a comprehensive package of legislation aimed at protecting the victims of domestic violence. The announcement was made just prior to Senate action on several important pieces of legislation that will enhance protections for domestic violence victims.
"Domestic violence victims need to know that New York State is serious about protecting their right to leave any situation where abuse is involved," said Senator Flanagan. "The legislation we are unveiling today will help us provide these victims with the ability to take control of their lives and the assurance that they are not alone in this battle. I applaud Mrs. Donaudy for having the courage to speak on behalf of all victims and for working with us to make the changes that are necessary."
As a former victim of domestic violence, Mrs. Donaudy has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of domestic violence by raising funds for Joe Torre’s Safe at Home Foundation and speaking publicly about her experience.
"The time is long overdue for the topic of domestic violence to emerge from a 'hidden, taboo discussion' to an open, nationwide conversation about its devastating impact on society," said Mrs. Donaudy. "Domestic violence victims are most often made to feel embarrassed and shamed into a corner of silence, which only results in further empowerment of the perpetrators to continue their torment without consequence, or government intervention. Giving voice to the abused, from the most privileged in our society to the least, will help send a message that everyone has rights under the law to live life free of the enslaved feeling that domestic abuse breeds, which is unconstitutional at its very core."
The first two pieces of the package that passed are aimed at protecting minors from the pain of witnessing domestic abuse. Studies indicate that children who witness domestic violence exhibit more aggressive behavior, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and low cognitive, verbal and motor skills.
These two measures would strengthen existing law by providing enhanced penalties for abusers who abuse their partner in front of a minor and allow for greater punishment for those who disregard the impact their actions may have on any innocent minors.
In addition, Senator Flanagan was successful in gaining Senate passage of legislation he sponsored that will allow courts to issue orders of protection for a period of time beyond that currently authorized or a permanent order of protection for domestic violence victims and those who have been stalked.
Senator Flanagan also supported Senate passage of legislation that will authorize family courts to issue orders of protection for witnesses called to testify in family court. This will allow witnesses in these cases to feel some peace of mind when they testify on behalf of a domestic violence victim and will allow more victims the ability to leave their dangerous situation.
Senator Flanagan also announced that the Senate will soon be working on legislation that will:
> require a court, when issuing a temporary order of protection, to suspend a firearm license, and order the immediate surrender of all firearms if the individual has been previously convicted of violating an order or protection by inflicting physical injury upon someone;
> permit the use of closed-circuit television for the victims of alleged domestic violence to testify in court; and
> allow electronic filing of orders of protection.
These efforts further advance the protection for abuse victims set out by the Senate which resulted in the recent passage of two important pieces of legislation that:
> includes stalking by technological means -- including illegal wiretapping, cell phones, caller ID, the Internet, GPS, and any other type of tracking device -- as an element of the current crimes of stalking in the first, second, and third degrees;
> adds victims of domestic violence to the list of protected classes who shall not be discriminated against by an employer in terms of hiring or employment practices.
"This push to enhance the protection of domestic violence and stalking victims will bring more attention to this serious problem and will allow those who are currently being abused to know that they have rights. We need to pass these laws and make sure that no one stays in a relationship that is abusive. The women who have their trust violated by abusers need to know that they have a right to a better life and that the law is on their side," concluded Senator Flanagan.
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