A bill in the Iowa Senate aims to expand the legal protections of domestic violence victims.
Under Iowa criminal law victims of domestic violence in dating relationships only have access to heightened protections if they are living with their abuser. A bill that gives victims access to certain protections, even if they aren't cohabitating, passed unanimously in the Senate Judiciary Committee today and will soon come before the entire chamber for a vote.
Sen. Janet Petersen, a Des Moines Democrat, says violence in dating relations can be just as deadly as marital violence.
"This bill would give victims of dating violence access to the same enhances protections of criminal domestic abuse assault, versus regular assault," Petersen says. "This would include automatic arrest policy, batterers education program for the abuser, criminal no-contact order, and escalating penalties for repeat offenders."
The committee also unanimously passed a bill that allows victims of sexual assault to file a civil protective order against their assailant. Currently victims can only obtain that protection if they have been in an intimate relationship with the abuser.
According the 2009 Uniform Crime Report from the Iowa Department of Public Safety, dating relationships account for 51.7 percent of domestic violence relationships, followed by spousal relationships at 26.8 percent.