A new bill would protect the survivors of domestic violence by adding an extra layer of protection for people who file for an injunction against their abuser.
The bill, filed Feb. 14, would keep the details of a petition for an injunction, commonly called a restraining order, from becoming public record until after the abuser is formally summoned to court. It isn’t limited to domestic violence. It would also apply to stalking, cyberstalking and other crimes of that nature. According to the bill, releasing this information to public record before the abuser is sent to court can be dangerous for the victim. The bill would add a layer of safety for the victim's family and the police officers tasked with serving the petition.
READ: House Bill 845
Marie Colee is a local survivor of domestic violence who understands what it’s like to ask for help. She said getting an injunction for protection can be hard and dangerous.
For Colee, she said that family photos, which should reflect fun, happy memories, instead represent years of abuse at the hands of her ex-husband.
"I lived for 22 years thinking that I was no one. That I was worthless, that I was not able to maintain a lifestyle without my abuser being part of it," said Colee, who found the courage to leave and was granted a restraining order.
Hubbard House of Jacksonville, a resource for people in violent relationships in Duval and Baker counties, issued the following statement showing its support of the bill.
The most dangerous time for a survivor of domestic violence is when she attempts to leave the abusive relationship. Depending on the circumstances of each survivor, an injunction for protection can be a key measure to enhance her safety and the safety of her children. However, it is critical that the survivor has the opportunity to implement her individualized safety plan before her abuser is aware that she has requested an injunction. The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Hubbard House fully support House Bill 845 and Senate Bill 980, which will keep information relating to a petition confidential until the respondent has been personally served with the temporary injunction and any associated documents."
According to Hubbard House, one in three women have been victims of physical violence by an intimate partner.
Since getting away from her abuser, Colee has shared her story, inspiring other survivors to get help.
"Every time I speak at an engagement, every time I talk about it to anyone, I get part of me back. It empowers me and therefore, I can empower other women," Colee said.
To learn more about domestic violence or get help, the following resources are available:
- Hubbard House (Baker and Duval counties): hubbardhouse.org or 904-354-3114
- Micah's Place (Nassau County): micahsplace.org or 904-225-9979
- Betty Griffin Center (St. Johns County): bettygriffincenter.org or 904-824-1555
- Quigley House (Clay County): quigleyhouse.org or 904-284-0061
- Lee Conlee House (Putnam County): leeconleehouse.org or 386-325-3141
- Peaceful Paths (Bradford, Alachua and Union counties): peacefulpaths.org or 352-377-8255