ALBANY, NY (WENY) — Some lawmakers in the New York State Senate feel domestic and sexual violence survivors face too many obstacles to life-saving resources. This week they took steps to change this.
“This is an issue that affects far too many New Yorkers, and we know that survivors deserve every resource and protection at their disposal on the road to recovery,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-35th Senate District).
Legislation passed in the Senate intends to relieve some of these burdens for survivors by expanding eligibility for victims’ compensation.
Some advocates said victims’ compensation can provide domestic violence survivors with money to pay for hospital bills, mental health counseling, to replace locks on doors, and even to replace personal property.
“It’s really a critical protection for domestic violence survivors. And it helps them to stabilize their lives after an incidence of crime occurs,” said Joan Gerhardt, Director of Public Policy at the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
The victim’s compensation bill intends to remove a mandatory law enforcement reporting requirement for applications.
This allows victims to provide alternate forms of evidence for compensation such as a copy of a restraining order, an order of protection, or a written statement through a victim service provider.
“What this bill does is it allows victims’ to decide for themselves,” Gerhardt said.
Gerhardt added there is more work the legislature could do to reduce barriers including increasing the amount of compensation, which is currently $600 a week and reducing wait times.