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Domestic violence bills to extend court protections for survivors

Domestic violence bills to extend court protections for survivors
Posted at 5:59 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 19:59:39-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Two domestic violence bills are making their way through the Arizona Legislature. Both would extend court protections granted to domestic violence survivors.

State Senator Victoria Steele experienced domestic abuse as a child.

“When we think of domestic violence, we tend to think of the adults in the picture: the husband, the wife, boyfriend, girlfriend," Steele said. "Almost always if there’s a child in the picture, that child is in danger.”

Steele says people in these situations need time to process what’s happened. Because of this, she sponsored two bills in the state legislature that would extend court orders of protection for victims of domestic violence. She says these court orders are life-saving.

“They can make it so you can't come to the place of residence, you can't come within a certain amount of feet from where the person works, you can't call, you can't write letters,” Steele said.

One bill, SB 1217, would extend the emergency orders of protection to seven days. Emergency orders are granted immediately after officers respond to a domestic violence incident. Currently, victims are only protected until the next day the court is open.

“It could be 2 a.m. and the courts are open at 8 a.m. You get 6 hours of protection and then you're on your own again,” said Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos.

Nanos saw the rise in domestic violence cases during the pandemic, and has advocated to extend emergency protections.

“Maybe you’ll talk to some attorneys, maybe you’ll talk to other family members but the whole idea was, we’ve got to give you an option to get you safe,” Nanos said.

Before the emergency order of protection ends, victims must decide on implementing a long-term order. This order currently lasts one year. But the other bill, SB 1216, would extend that protection to two years.

“The idea is to give the victim of violence and any children involved, that measure of time to get on their feet, to get into a safe situation,” Steele said.

SB 1216 has passed in the state Senate and will soon go to the House for consideration. The other bill, SB 1217 still needs to be discussed by the state Senate and House.

If you or a loved one are in a domestic violence situation, here are some resources. You can call or text the national domestic violence hot line. The number to call is 1 (800) 799-7233. Or you can text 'start' to 88788. If you're looking for local resources, call Emerge at 520-795-4266 or visit their website.