Domestic Violence Victims Would Get New Protections Under Bills From State Senator Dave Min – Orange County Registry
More than half of victims of domestic violence struggle with bills they did not pay voluntarily, while almost 100% report experiencing some form of financial abuse, such as being forced by a partner into debt by credit card.
And up to three in four female victims say their abusers tried to force them to get pregnant or control their reproductive choices, leaving survivors with higher rates of unwanted pregnancies, abortions and sexually transmitted infections.
A new package of bills from freshman Dave Min, D-Irvine, aims to eliminate these two common issues.
Under Senate Bill 373, which Min introduced on January 11, victims of domestic violence who can show they have been forced into debt would be guaranteed financial protection. And Senate Bill 374, also drafted by Min, would make California the first state in the country to recognize “reproductive coercion” as a form of domestic violence.
“Most people think of domestic violence as a man hitting a woman,” Min said. “But there is so much more than that. When you talk to survivors… it is the threat of violence and coercion that is just as debilitating as the actual violence.
Min credits his wife, Jane Stoever, a lawyer who runs the UC Irvine Law School’s Domestic Violence Clinic, with research and survivor stories that have helped understand how financial and reproductive problems can prevent victims to leave the cycle of violence. And he said he wanted to prioritize this legislation two months after starting his first term because reports from domestic violence is skyrocketing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under SB 373, survivors of domestic violence would have a process to try to prove that the debt they are carrying was incurred as a result of economic abuse. If a judge agrees, creditors and debt collectors would not be allowed to collect the debt, and consumer credit bureaus would be prohibited from including it on victims’ credit reports.
Each year, the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence nonprofit, which co-sponsors SB 373, reports that an average of $ 15,936 in debt is incurred without the victim’s knowledge or consent, with some survivors. being forced to take out loans or top up credit cards under threat of violence.
According to Krista Niemczyk, director of public policy for the California Partnership, at least 42% of survivors have seen their credit scores deteriorate because of these debts, leaving them “vulnerable to future abuse, poverty and instability in the world. housing or roaming ”. to end domestic violence.
Financial hardship is also the most likely predictor of a survivor’s ability to leave their abuser permanently. In one 2012 survey, some 85% of victims who returned with abusive partners said financial problems pushed them back.
“It is a matter of life and death for the survivors who have to come out of these relationships,” Min said.
While SB 373 would not have financial repercussions for the state, Min acknowledged that it could hit financial companies carrying the debt. Creditors could try to collect debt from the abuser, Min said, because there is strong case law regarding forcing someone to enter into a contract under “duress.” Or financial companies could simply classify these losses as “bad debts,” which would allow them to write them off as they usually do with overdue loans or other debts they cannot collect.
A spokesperson for San Diego-based Encore Capitol Group, which is one of the nation’s largest debt collectors, said they are still reviewing the details of the new bill, but backing the bill. intent of SB 373.
Min’s second bill, SB 374, would add “reproductive coercion” to the categories of abuse covered by the Domestic Violence Prevention Act. This would ensure that victims could use examples of their abuser tampering with their birth control to try to get them pregnant, try to force them to terminate a pregnancy, or otherwise interfere with their reproductive decisions as a basis. to obtain restraining orders or seek other legal measures.
Min hopes that the distinction can offer more protection to women, who too often plead their cause for older male judges which, according to him, does not take reproductive issues into account when examining possible cases of abuse.
While SB 374 could lead to criminal charges for the perpetrator, Min’s bill stops short of calling for making “reproductive coercion” itself a crime.
This is one of the differences between Min’s Bill and Bill 453, recently introduced by Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, which would make it a crime for someone from removing a condom without your partner’s consent. While Garcia’s bill focuses on expanding the definition of “sexual violence”, Min’s bill would change the definition of “domestic violence.”
Min said he has yet to consider Garcia’s bill in sufficient detail to take a position on it. But, as someone who supports criminal justice reform, he is generally cautious about creating a new criminal code.
Min’s two bills build on the work of Senator Susan Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, who passed in 2020 historical legislation allow survivors of domestic violence to use descriptions of psychologically harmful and abusive behavior, such as isolating them from friends or depriving them of basic necessities, as evidence in family court hearings and criminal trials.
Rubio is co-author of Min’s SB 374 and lead co-author of SB 373, while Assembly member David Chiu, D-San Francisco, is co-author.
Min defeated GOP holder John Moorlach in November to win the seat of the 37th District, which includes much of central Orange County, from Laguna Beach in the northeast to the Anaheim Hills.
He has introduced five more bills since taking the oath of office on December 7. prohibit the sale of firearms on state property. Another would make non-partisan county elections more like state and federal elections, where the Top two voters qualify for November general election instead of potentially winning outright in the primary. Others aim to rationalize Payment status controller, personal income tax law and the ability of homeowners’ associations to hold board meetings by teleconference during emergencies.
Min’s gun and election bills have already been sent to various state Senate committees for review, while the other bills are still awaiting referral.