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SURVIVORS ACT | Revived act heads to house, aims to protect victims of domestic violence

dvis crisis line
Posted at 5:14 PM, May 17, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — Senate bill 1835, a revised version of the Oklahoma Survivors Act, passed the Senate floor unanimously Thursday afternoon.

The legislation, meant to protect survivors of domestic violence, who may choose violence to get out of their abusive situations.

Both House of Representatives and the Senate approved the bill the first time, but it was vetoed by Gov. Kevin Stitt when it first landed on his desk in April.

Stitt explained that the language was too loose, and would have allowed anyone – without the trauma of abuse – to ask for a lesser sentence.

“Everybody in prison could have come back and said, ‘Hey I want my sentence reduced because of trauma that I had from my past,’” said Stitt. “Well, I don’t know about you, but I could think of a lot of trauma from my childhood, and everybody has issues they can think about, especially if you think it’s going to get you a shorter sentence. I’m sure everyone could come up with something, so that’s why I vetoed that.”

SB 1835 was already in motion as a trailer bill to support the Survivors Act before Gov. Stitt vetoed it.

The new bill amended the language and added to the original proposal.

If the bill is signed into law, the Survivor’s Act would force courts to weigh any mental, physical or psychological abuse a survivor may have endured, before deciding on a sentence.

“You just can’t underestimate what incarceration does to someone who’s a victim of domestic violence,” said Tracey Lyall, CEO of Domestic Violence Intervention Services. “It truly does revictimize them. It delays their healing, and the whole process of trying to move past what they’ve experienced and the trauma.”

A law like this would do more than protect those going through domestic violence now and in the future, Lyall tells 2 News.

It would give hope to those already behind bars for a crime against their attacker, allowing them to ask the courts for a lesser sentence.

“It means a lot as a provider of domestic violence services to have a legislature that supports this kind of bill,” said Lyall. “It’s been a long time coming, I think, for domestic violence to rise to the top of the minds of people who are in charge of our state.”

The bill now goes before the House of Representatives. Gov. Stitt said he does intend to sign it into law, now that those changes have been made.

DVIS recommends anyone who is planning to leave an abusive situation reach out and ask for guidance from either them or law enforcement – to avoid any additional violence that may come from trying to leave.

Their 24-hour crisis line can be reached at 918-743-5763.

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