harlandaily.com

Bill on emergency protective orders must be extended

December 31, 2013

Whether you have married your abuser, lived with him or her, or had a child with him or her, can mean life or death in Kentucky.


The state’s current law doesn’t allow the victims of abuse to obtain emergency protective orders against former flames if they were just “dating partners.” Under state law, such orders are available only to those who married, co-habitated or had a child with their abuser.


That’s wrong and state Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, is trying to change that.


Mr. Tilley, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has again filed legislation that would make emergency orders, which by law are available around the clock, attainable by those who have simply dated their abusers.


Currently, if someone fears that an abusive dating partner — past or present — is intent on harming them again, they must go through their county attorney’s office and swear out a warrant for their abuser’s arrest, a process that will sometimes take days.


That’s simply wrong.


Such legislation has passed the House the last three legislation sessions and in 2013, even cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee — but never got a vote on the Senate Floor.


Why won’t the Senate pass the bill? Some have argued that the state’s criminal justice laws already deal with the issue — but they only serve to punish the abuser after the fact and do little, if anything, to protect the victim before being harmed or killed.


Others have suggested that Senate opposition is rooted in opposition to all things gay. Mr. Tilley’s bill would apply to gay men and women and protect them as well. We hope that’s not what is behind the opposition.


When the General Assembly comes into session early next year, it needs to pass Mr. Tilley’s bill post-haste. Those who were lucky enough to get out of relationships before they married, moved in with or had children with their abusers, deserve it.


— Courier-Journal, Louisville