June 4, 2021

Sen. Kasser Applauds Final House Passage Of Domestic Violence Law

HARTFORD – State Senator Alex Kasser (D-Greenwich), who has spent years working with domestic violence organizations and advocating for the rights of domestic violence victims all across Connecticut, today applauded the House of Representatives for giving final passage to a bill she co-authored, Senate Bill 1091, which is often referred to as Jennifers’ Law.

The law expands the definition of domestic violence to include non-physical violence or “coercive control,” which is a pattern of threatening, humiliating, or intimidating acts that harm a person and deprive them of their freedom, autonomy and human rights. This new and expanded definition of domestic violence will now apply to all family court proceedings – restraining orders, divorce and custody cases. 

The bill also establishes a new legal aid program to provide legal representation for victims of domestic violence who apply for restraining orders. And if a victim receives a restraining order, and rents her home, she now has the right to change her locks to keep her home safe. The bill also allows someone to be charged for a hate crime if they assault a person “in substantial part” because of their race, religion, country of origin or sexuality. 

Sen. Kasser issued the following statement on final passage of the bill, which now heads to Governor Lamont for his signature into law:

“Passage of Senate Bill 1091, also known as “Jennifers’ Law,” today in the House is a milestone victory for victims of abuse, who are primarily women and children. Victims are demeaned and violated inside their homes, then discredited and rejected when they appeal for help. Their power is taken from them, but this groundbreaking legislation gives it back. It ensures every person’s autonomy – the ability leave an abusive situation and regain control of their own lives.  

 ”We are all Jennifer. Whether we are male or female, black or white, gay or straight, rich or poor, urban or suburban, we are all susceptible to the abuse of power that can come at the hands of the people we trust the most – our own family members. This legislation declares that abuse of power inside a family or household is unacceptable. And all forms of abuse – physical, sexual, emotional, financial, legal and psychological – will now be recognized. These behaviors can be subtle and hard to recognize, especially when the abuser appears charming and nice on the outside. This legislation gives courts, attorneys and individuals the tools to recognize and prevent domestic Vvolence, including the invisible abuse we call coercive control.

“I am profoundly grateful to the loved ones of Jennifer Farber Dulos, Jennifer Magnano, and the hundreds of other women who died trying to get free. You never gave up the fight for justice, and together we are making sure they did not die in vain.

“I am also profoundly grateful to the many brave survivors of domestic violence who spoke out at great risk to themselves in support of this legislation. Their strength and courage made this possible. For many, the struggle to get free can take years, sometimes decades. Victims of abuse are forced to make tremendous sacrifices – they often lose their homes, their jobs and their financial security and spend years in court. Some victims even lose their children. And some lose their lives. Freedom should not come at such a terrible cost.

 ”I look forward to seeing the governor sign this bill into law so the Judicial Branch can enforce it, as the law and ensure every person’s right to be safe and free. With continued effort, we can achieve justice for all Jennifers.”