Georgia lawmakers are investing in serving to victims of stalking and home violence

Jackson said that people who are stalked often feel like victims in their own homes, even if the stalking is online or does not involve violent threats. According to the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, approximately 312,000 Georgians are stalked each year.

“Often when someone has followed you on social media, the end of that story is finding you personally,” she said. “Being able to get out of the lease in order to get a new and secure start” is important.

State Representative Houston Gaines, an Athens Republican, said Georgia has also left a loophole open for those who are victims of dating violence. The state is currently issuing protection orders for people who are or were married, or who currently or previously lived together. But those who were molested by someone they were with had no way of protecting themselves in court.

Judges can issue interim protection orders for a period of 30 days to a year if a victim can prove that someone physically harmed or persecuted them. Judges have the ability to restrict a person found to have physically injured or persecuted a victim in a number of ways, including: B. by prohibiting contact with this person or ordering a psychiatric examination.

House Bill 231 would allow pregnant women who are currently with someone or who have ended a relationship within the last six months to receive a protection warrant against someone who is molesting them.

“This is a tool that is life-saving,” said Gaines. “(Temporary protection orders) are tools that victims use to seek help from their perpetrators.”

Legislature also approved Bill 255, which would create a system of tracking rape kits from initial collection to receipt, storage, and analysis. Victims could pursue the evidence as it moves through the criminal justice system, including law enforcement.

The bill is the state’s latest attempt to empower victims after the General Assembly passed laws in recent years requiring police to retain evidence of sexual assault and clean up residue from unchecked rape kits.

All three bills were sent to Governor Brian Kemp for review.

And lawmakers also approved a budget increase of about $ 1.8 million to address a shortage of state domestic violence shelter caused by a federal spending cut in the Crime Victims Act known as VOCA.

“This will help alleviate some of that pain,” said Blake Tillery, Senate chairman for funding, a Republican from Vidalia. “While we can help plug this hole temporarily without federal intervention with VOCA, we’re just sticking a finger in the dam.”

Mainor said she hoped the state would continue to support victims of domestic violence.

“Stalking, domestic violence, rape – these are all bad words people don’t like to say in public,” she said. “If we don’t talk about it, it’s still taboo and I don’t want it to be taboo. I think we are on the right track. “