Kentucky Senate panel advances dating violence bill - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky Senate panel advances dating violence bill

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The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill that gives victims of dating violence and stalking new tools to protect themselves. The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill that gives victims of dating violence and stalking new tools to protect themselves.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky is the only state that does not offer emergency protections to those in dating relationships, but it appears that is about to change.

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill that gives victims of dating violence and stalking new tools to protect themselves.

“638,000. That's the number of Kentucky women who will experience physical violence, rape and/or stalking by an intimate partner,” said the bill's primary sponsor, Rep. John Tilley (D-Hopkinsville).

During a committee hearing, backers of House Bill 8 told lawmakers shocking stories of women threatened and abused by boyfriends.

“He slammed her against the wall, his hand around your throat, got right in her face and said 'Remember this the next time you don't answer your phone',” said Marion Brown, the director of the Sanctuary, a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Hopkinsville.

The bill would allow victims of dating violence and stalking to take out emergency protective orders.

Right now, that kind of protection is limited to married couples, those who live together or have children together.

Opponents are concerned expanding the scope of EPOs can give victims a false sense of security.

“Our criminal justice system seems to be moving toward, 'Just get a piece of paper and get an order, and don't deal with the problem',” said Adrienne Gilbert of Take Back Kentucky.

But the panel passed the bill without a single 'no' vote.

Pat Byron, whose daughter -- Mary -- was killed in Louisville by an ex-boyfriend in 1993, says it's about time.

“It is a piece of paper, but it's what it represents that is so important. And it will protect other women in similar situations,” said Byron.

A similar bill has already passed the House. With the session winding down, the Senate must take action this week and the two chambers must then agree on the final version.

“I'm advocating for it to move as soon as possible. There's no need for it to slow down or be held up for any reason,” said Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville) the chair of the Judiciary Committee.

Supporters say they've been working on a bill for seven years, and it could finally land on the governor's desk as early as next week.

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