January 13, 2020
Delegate Delaney Takes Legislative Focus on Survivors of Sexual and Domestic Violence
(CHANTILLY, VA) - Delegate Karrie Delaney has filed an impactful set of bills designed to expand protections and healthcare services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Delegate Delaney has worked with stakeholders from across the victims’ advocate and forensic nursing community and has responded with a package of comprehensive reforms that aim to make it easier for victims of violence to receive the justice they deserve. Her package includes an expansion of the definition of domestic violence, increased funding for medical costs incurred by survivors of sexual assault at a hospital, and new protocols for the treatment of sexual assault survivors in the Commonwealth’s hospitals.
HB 412 seeks to add dating relationships to the definition of household and family members. Currently, victims who are not living with their abusers are not able to seek extra domestic violence protection, putting them significantly in harm's way at a sensitive time in their lives.
“It is unacceptable that those in dating relationships with abusers are not able to receive the protection and justice they deserve,” said Del. Delaney. “The fact is, the current statute leaves students, young people, and members of the LGBT community significantly disadvantaged because they are the groups who are the most likely to be victims of violence and are the groups who are the least likely to live with a significant other. That is why we must expand this definition and help everyone seek justice.”
Delegate Delaney is also introducing HB 806 and HB 807, which are direct recommendations from her 2019 study of the current state of Forensic Nursing in the Commonwealth of Virginia. HB 806 enables the creation of a Sexual Assault Survivors Task Force, smooths the course of justice for victims of sexual assault, and helps cover medical costs for survivors.
“I have spent my career as an advocate for survivors of sexual assault,” Del. Delaney. “That is why I was determined to making sure our health care systems are properly equipped to treat victims of domestic and sexual violence and provide them with needed resources and a pathway to justice.
Finally, Del. Delaney has introduced HB 808, or the Sexual Assault Survivors Act, which would require hospitals in Virginia to establish protocols for transport and treatment of survivors, helps fund payment of medical costs associated with the treatment of sexual assault injuries and increases the number of qualified sexual assault forensic services providers in the Commonwealth.
“We must prioritize the treatment of survivors across the Commonwealth so more perpetrators of this heinous crime are brought to justice,” said Del. Delaney. “I have seen time and time again how our system has failed survivors, which is why I am calling for the passage of these bills to encourage more victims to disclose and receive the treatment they need.”
Delegate Delaney spent her career as an advocate for children and victims of abuse and assault. In the 2020 session, she plans to make the rights of victims a centerpiece of her legislative agenda and create an environment where survivors feel they will be heard and receive justice.