Five bills signed into law in New York will make it easier for victims of domestic abuse to break free of their abuser.
One bill allows victims of sexual violence to apply to the board of elections to have their voter registration information sealed from the public. Another allows victims to get out of paying joint utility bills if they flee their homes.
“This is an issue that comes up with many of our survivors that they were on the same utility bill as the person who is causing them harm, their abuser,” said Jimmy Meaghar, policy director at Safe Horizon.
The package of new laws includes a requirement that health insurers provide victims with alternative contact information so they can access their claims and benefits. And criminal and family court judges in domestic violence cases will now be required to ask if there are guns in the home. Police will be authorized to seize firearms when there an order of protection has been issued.
While some of these laws take effect immediately, others will go into effect early next year.
“Together this package of bills really allows for survivors to pursue options that really make sense for them to be able to find the pathway to safety,” Meaghar said.