In Arkansas, 1 in 4 women will suffer abuse in their lifetime. Domestic violence is an epidemic affecting every community regardless of age, economic status, gender, race, or religion.
To end domestic violence and sexual assault, we all need to be part of the solution.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We want to use this time to remind Arkansans about the resources available to victims and the legislation passed to help put an end to the violence.
More than 10,000 Arkansans a year will seek help in a domestic violence shelter. Arkansas has 34 such shelters across the state. In 2017, we passed legislation to provide additional funding to these shelters without a cost to taxpayers.
Act 583 directs an additional court cost of twenty-five dollars to be assessed if an individual is convicted of domestic abuse or is the respondent on a permanent order of protection. The money will be used to administer grants to domestic violence shelters.
Another piece of legislation ensures victims of domestic violence have contact with family and friends.
Act 577 allows a judge to issue an order directing a cell phone provider to transfer billing and rights of a cell phone number to the person seeking protection from domestic abuse. This legislation aims to not only provide victims of abuse with access to contacts of family and friends but it also protects records on their location.
In addition, we passed legislation requiring cosmetology students to receive training in recognizing the signs of domestic violence. This legislation does not require hair dressers to become mandated reporters, but rather opens the door to perhaps an opportunity for help. Hair dressers could take the lessons they learned to provide information to a client about how and where to get help.
Every session, we evaluate our laws regarding domestic violence. We will continue in this effort and welcome input from anyone impacted by this epidemic.