Domestic abuse is a very serious issue worldwide. Although there are laws and other things put in place to help people in these situations, domestic abuse is still widespread. Not only this, but other nonphysical forms of abuse, such as financial and verbal, were not kinds of abuse in which the police or a judge could easily intervene. With the new Domestic Abuse Bill, these things are now being addressed.
Here’s what you need to know:
What are the concerns?
The concerns with the bill are more about the government and less about the bill itself. The government is already not helping people in these situations as well as they can. When a married person is experiencing domestic abuse, the financial aid is sent to the couple, not the individual in need of it. This makes it all too easy for that check to end up in the wrong hands. This has made it harder for victims to leave the abusive relationship, and most of them end up staying with their abuser. It is also hard for the victims to find shelter because either it isn’t available, or the places that do offer shelter are too full. People are also concerned about the kids who are affected by abuse. What kinds of programs could be put in place to ensure that they are well taken care of and are not affected heavily by the trauma of either being abused or witnessing abuse?
What do I need to know?
The Domestic Violence Bill 2018 will replace the old bill of 1996 and the Domestic Violence Amendment Act of 2002. Many people and organizations, such as Women’s Aid, have been petitioning for many changes to occur. Some of the issues Women’s Aid wanted to change are in fact being addressed in the new bill. There are, however, many people who are against the bill, saying that it takes too much government funding. Thankfully, half of the House of Representatives and two thirds of the Senate voted to pass the bill.
Although the bill was said to go into effect, there have been setbacks caused by the wall on the Mexican border and the government shutdown. Those in Congress also passed a stopgap bill for two weeks, which extended the process of the bill so that it wouldn’t interfere with the state funeral of our 41st president, George H. W. Bush. Because of the stopgap and other problems, the bill was not issued prior to the government shutdown and is on temporary hold. The hold means that it will take even longer for the bill’s changes to impact minorities, such as Native Americans, who suffer greatly from domestic abuse.
What are the changes?
The bill has many changes, including an increase in protection, a greater focus on children and minorities, and solutions to people in abusive situations. There will also be better police training for these situations. Some of that training includes not arresting the victim along with the abuser (a system called dual-arrest). When the bill is in place, only the person or persons causing the most harm, violence, or other abuse will be arrested. The bill also aims to help parents of abused children, spouses, and those in relationships where the parties are not married. There will also be a change in specialist support systems, which grant victims a place to stay while restraining orders, trials, and the like are being processed.
Statistics show that more than half of the domestic violence homicides are committed by people in unmarried relationships. One out of five victims are murdered within two days of trying to get help. It’s also possible for the perpetrator to avoid getting a background check and purchasing a firearm after the emergency protective order is put in place. These loopholes are being sealed by rules in the new bill for higher protection of the victim. There will also be state commissioners set in place to make sure the laws are followed.
This bill not only helps men, women, and children in these situations, but also extends to pets. In homes where domestic violence occurs, about 85% of victims admit that their pets are also getting abused. Up to one third of domestic violence victims refused to leave their homes because of the fear that something awful would happen to their pets, but only 3% of worldwide safe houses for victims would accommodate pets. There will now be organizations put in place to help victims find shelter for their pets. PAWS, an organization associated with helping animals, is working to support the building of kennels, shelters, and services for abused pets.
This bill is extremely significant. The bill will help more people and families than ever before with a much larger focus on the victims and how to help them in these abusive situations. Many of the public's concerns are addressed in this new bill and will be implemented once the bill is in action. To read more about what the bill will do, be sure to read Women’s Aid Guide on the New Domestic Violence Act 2018.