The state enacts new measures to help victims, while Sen. Helming says more shelters are needed
Several measures expanding protections for victims of domestic violence were recently signed into law. State Sen. Pam Helming, R-Canandaigua, highlighted the measures that she advocated for and passed the Legislature during this year’s session.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the pieces of legislation Aug. 8. One measure broadens the definition of the crime of domestic violence to include forms of economic abuse such as identity theft, grand larceny and coercion. Another gives victims the choice to vote by mail-in ballot, even if they remain within the county where they are registered to vote. A third measure allows victims to report abuse to any law enforcement agency in New York state, regardless of where the violence originally took place.
The legislation builds on previous actions as part of the 2019 Women's Justice Agenda to combat domestic violence and empower victims to seek justice. Earlier this year, the governor signed the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, which structured more meaningful sentence reductions for domestic abuse survivors in the criminal justice system.
“Almost each and every one of us know someone who has been a victim of domestic violence. We have to break the cycle, support victims, and hold those who commit these heinous acts responsible,” stated Helming. “These newly signed laws will make it easier for victims of domestic violence to come forward to report their abuse.”
Helming added that after someone takes the first step of reporting their abuse, they need a safe place to go. Currently, there are six counties in the state — three of those counties are in the Finger Lakes region — that do not have a domestic violence shelter.
“Every county should have a domestic violence shelter to provide victims and their families with safe housing,” stated the senator whose district covers the Finger Lakes region. Helming has been working with Safe Harbors of the Finger Lakes to bring a shelter to Seneca County that will also serve families from Yates and Ontario counties.
“We will work together to provide funding to our communities to prevent future abuse and tragedy,” stated Helming.