TRENTON, N.J. – An Assembly panel today unanimously advanced a package of bills sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz advocating for more stringent protections for domestic violence victims. The vote was 6 to 0.
“These victims have suffered in silence for too long. We have viewed domestic violence as isolated incidents, not the epidemic it is,” said Muñoz (R-Union). “Domestic violence can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or education level. It has permeated our families and our communities. While we have come a long way in providing protections for victims, our work isn’t done.”
The legislation cleared in committee today includes (A-4045) establishing a statewide therapeutic treatment program for children and families of victims, which is currently available in only 11 counties. Other measures include (A-4046) establishing standards for intervention programs; (AR-162) urging the state Supreme Court to create a technology task force within the court’s State Domestic Violence Working Group; and (AR-163) urging the state Supreme Court and attorney general to add members to their jointly-created County Domestic Violence Working Groups.
“These measures will help victims and provide law enforcement with the tools they need to stem this crisis. Children are especially affected by the violence they see at home,” continued Muñoz. “Studies show they are often depressed, aggressive, have little self-esteem and do poorly in school. Expanding therapy will greatly assist the healing process for these vulnerable, innocent children.”
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, while one in four men have been physically abused by a partner. Domestic violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime. Likewise, the coalition reports that one in 15 children have witnessed violence toward a parent or loved one in the home.
Muñoz sponsors several other domestic violence bills, including S-2483/A-412 that was signed last week by the governor. It prevents a person convicted of a domestic violence crime or who is under a domestic violence restraining order from possessing or purchasing firearms and requires the immediate surrender of any firearms along with purchaser identification cards and handgun permits.