Assemblyman Steve Stern Supports Legislation to Protect Survivors of Domestic Violence

Measures provide protection to enable victims to move without fear of financial liability

Huntington, NY – Assemblyman Steve Stern (D-10th AD) announced that legislation that he supported to protect victims of domestic violence passed the Assembly. The new package of legislation empowers survivors to escape abusers who may control their financial lives, leaving them isolated and powerless.

The Assembly’s legislation includes a measure to streamline the process for early lease termination to ensure their safety and the safety of their children. Additionally, the new law prohibits landlords from disclosing the reason for the lease termination.

Domestic violence survivors often face discrimination in employment. This legislative initiative requires employers to provide reasonable workplace accommodations so that survivors may attend court appearances and receive counseling and medical treatment related to their abuse.

“It is very difficult for victims of domestic violence to escape from abusive, often life-threatening situations especially when children are also impacted,” Assemblyman Stern said. “Victims need to seek help, whether through court intervention, counseling and medical treatment and need to be free to move from dangerous homes to protect themselves and their children,” Assemblyman Stern said. “These measures help victims reclaim their lives and ensure that their children are safe at home.”

Holding abusers accountable for their actions is critical to protecting domestic violence survivors. To that end, the Assembly passed legislation to receive civil damages for economic and non-economic losses; simplify language in the notification of rights provided by law enforcement and District Attorneys; and lengthen the statute of limitations from one year to two years to recover damages for domestic violence in a civil action.

“Victims need time and resources to protect themselves through our courts,” Assemblyman Stern said. “It is vital for justice to be done, to help the victim heal, to hold the abuser accountable and to send a clear and strong message to abusers that they will not escape responsibility for their heinous behavior.”

To further help victims distance themselves from their abusers, the legislative package:

  • allows victims of domestic violence to cancel telephone or cable contracts without incurring cancellation fees
  • allows victims to vote by special ballot by mail
  • requires hospitals to establish policies and procedures regarding identifying and notifying domestic violence victims of available services and
  • requires health insurers to provide victims of domestic violence with the option to have claim information and benefits sent to an alternative mailing address

Another important new protection expands Domestic Violence protections in the Social Services Law, to protect victims of economic abuse to include identity theft, grand larceny and coercion. “Domestic abuse can take many forms, and victims may find that their homes have been signed away, their assets stolen and may have to declare bankruptcy because of financial crimes committed against them by domestic partners,” Assemblyman Stern said. “This measure is an important step to protect victims’ solvency and security.”

Help and support are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Long Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence can be reached at (631) 666-7181, the Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk (VIBS) at (631) 360-0089 or the New York State Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-942-6909.