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More protection could be on the way for Delaware abuse victims

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Eileen Williams, who works directly with as many as 800 victims of domestic violence, sees it all the time.

The coordinator of the Kent County Domestic Violence Advocacy Program says it’s not unusual for an abuser to begin harassment the day after an Order of Protection from Abuse (PFA) ends.

Legislation unveiled in Dover Thursday would strengthen Delaware’s PFAs.

“This legislation will go a long way towards alleviating pressure and problems victims face after the court process ends,” Williams said.

The bill would allow the Family Court to extend the “no contact” provisions of a PFA from its current one-year limit to two years in every case. In cases where aggravating circumstances exist, the bill would give the court discretion to order no contact for as long as deemed necessary.

“Women who have suffered domestic violence have already lived through a nightmare,” said Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden. “Requiring them to reapply for legal protection is an unnecessary hardship. This legislation lifts a heavy burden off of their shoulders so they can move on with their lives.”

In cases where abuse is most egregious, including where a deadly weapon is used, the bill would extend the no contact provision for life.

“No one should need to live in fear,” said Gov. Jack Markell. “We want anyone who labors under the threat of violence to be able to get the protective order they need, for as long as it needs to be in place.”

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