Legislators hope to better protect victims of dating violence in - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Legislators hope to better protect victims of dating violence in Ky.

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- State officials say Kentucky's number of domestic violence victims is much higher than the national average.  Legislators say they want to help some victims who have not been able to get necessary protection in the past.

Lawmakers and legislators say they have been trying to get protection for victims of dating violence for the past several years.  They hope they've gained enough support to make a difference this year. Legislators say they are tired of letting some fall victim to circumstance.

"You can only get this protection if you are married, living together or have a child in common with your abuser," said Rep. John Tilley (D) of Hopkinsville. "Those who are in dating relationships can't get that protection and that's arbitrary...and almost every other state has realized that except us."

Tilley said he was proud to sponsor HB 8.  He and other sponsors have been trying for the past few years to change laws to allow for those in dating relationships to get emergency protection.

"We have fallen below the curve," Tilley said. "In fact, you could say that we have less protection than any other state."

The Judiciary Chairman says the bluegrass state has 650,000 victims of domestic violence -- a number much higher than the national average.  He says the state's protection resources are outdated.

"You can make an argument that we are the last state, but we are clearly one of the last five, so I think it's time to move on this issue," said Tilley.

Tilley said the issue affected him more than some others, probably because he has daughters himself.  Though efforts have been made, no such law has passed.

"This issue has not really prioritized there, but last year it received a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was a victory and a huge step forward," Tilley said.

Co-sponsors said as time goes by, the issue continues to affect more young women.  Tilley said women ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely to be victimized.

Tilley and the bill's co-sponsor, Rep. Denny Butler (D) of Louisville, said the immediacy of the legislation is a very important element. Tilley said under the law, an abuser's name would be instantly added to a nationwide database.

They say changes to allow immediate assistance is key, because timing is crucial.  Tilley said opposition they have seen in the past was the opinion that dating violence victims could use the criminal justice system to get protection.

"An act of domestic violence is typically one of passion and emotion and it needs to be handled immediately, there's no time for delay," Tilley said. "Sometimes the criminal justice system moves slowly."

They are hoping that time saved will spare lives.  Tilley said a study out of the University of Kentucky showed that for every $1 spent in protective order system, $31 is saved in other costs.

"If you apply the $1 spent, $31 saved, return on investment and apply it to Kentucky, that's roughly $86 million saved each and every year," Tilley said.

Sponsors are hoping reintroducing the bill will mean changes.  House Bill 8 will be presented to the House Judiciary Committee on Jan. 8.  Sponsors say they believe it will receive even more support.

"From the human standpoint, nobody should be put in that environment," said Butler. "Later on down if we break that cycle, it can only be helpful, not only financially, but for society."

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