Assemblyman Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) announced that he helped pass legislation making more resources available to domestic violence survivors so they can put their safety first and seek justice against their abusers.
Domestic violence is a betrayal of trust that takes many forms, and many times, its most dangerous for victims when they try to leave, Ramos said. We have to do everything we can to help survivors out of these situations. This legislation provides victims with resources and support so they can begin to rebuild their lives.
Ramos supported several measures to help victims safely get away from abusers, including a bill allowing victims of domestic violence to cancel telephone or cable contracts without incurring cancellation fees (A.5318). To further support victims as they leave unsafe domestic situations, Ramos co-sponsored measures to:
- allow victims to vote by special ballot by mail (A.219-A);
- require hospitals to establish policies and procedures regarding identifying and notifying victims of available services (A.2850-A); and
- require health insurers to provide victims with the option to have claim information and benefits sent to an alternative mailing address (A.2832).
Additionally, the Assemblys legislation streamlines the procedure for early lease termination by victims of domestic violence and prohibits landlords from disclosing the termination of tenancy to future landlords (A.4267). Recognizing the importance of victims gaining financial independence, Ramos also passed a measure to prohibit employers from discriminating against victims and requires employers to provide reasonable workplace accommodations for such employees to attend court appearances and seek critical services (A.5618).
Victims shouldnt feel silenced because they think the justice system wont help them, Ramos said. Facing an abuser in court can be a traumatizing experience in itself, which is why domestic violence survivors need to know that New York stands behind them. If they choose, survivors should be given the chance to seek justice so perpetrators can be held accountable for their despicable actions.
To do this, Ramos supported measures to increase the statute of limitations for a civil action to recover damages for injuries arising from domestic violence from one to two years (A.1945) and ensure victims understand their legal rights and access to services during court proceedings (A.7395). Further, the Assemblys package also includes bills to:
- allow victims of domestic violence to receive damages for economic and non-economic losses from all defendants found liable in civil court (A.5614); and
- expand the definition in the Social Services Law of victim of domestic violence to include victims of identity theft, grand larceny and coercion, and assure theyre eligible for certain victim services (A.5608).
This legislation builds on Ramos efforts to strengthen the rights of victims of domestic violence. Earlier this year, Ramos helped pass the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act giving judges greater discretion when sentencing defendants who are victims of domestic violence when their abuse was a significant contributing factor in their offense (A.3974). Victims shouldnt be unjustly penalized for actions stemming from an abusive situation, Ramos noted.
No one should feel trapped in a cycle of abuse, Ramos noted. Help and support are always available. For more information, visit the New York State Office of Victim Services website at ovs.ny.gov or the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence website at opdv.yn.gov. New Yorks toll-free hotline is open 24 hours a day at 1-800-942-6906. Locally, L.I. Against Domestic Violence offers a range of services to adults and children looking to escape abusive relationships. For assistance, contact its 24-hour hotline at 631-666-8833 or go to liadv.org.