New law helps victims of domestic violence when they become the accused.
“Why didn’t she just leave?” This is stated many times by the prosecutor in a court case of a New York woman who believed her partner’s severe abuse would not end until he was dead. The statement is tantamount to blaming her for staying in an abusive relationship without any recognition whatsoever of the danger she faces in leaving. Under a new law, the killing of an abusive partner to end horrific ongoing abuse will now be considered as to whether it’s an act of self-defense that takes into account the danger of leaving an abusive relationship.
Recognizing survivors of severe abuse with compassion.
The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA) in the state of New York shows understanding and compassion for domestic violence survivors. It can allow a reduced sentence between five and fifteen years when domestic violence is proven to have contributed to the crime.
In a recent New Yorker article (Snyder, R.L.), “When Can a Woman Who Kills Her Abuser Claim Self-Defense?” the author recounts the story of a murder case in New York state where a severely-abused woman shot her partner. In the court proceedings, one point made by the prosecutor is that she did not pull the trigger while she was under attack. The jury found her guilty of the most severe charges she could have gotten—second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a handgun. With these charges, she faces twenty-five years to life in prison unless the judge applies the DVSJA.
The new law allows the accused a chance to be seen and understood in the context of their ongoing abusive circumstance that allows their action to be recognized as “reasonable.”
The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).