Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Lawmakers Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Assist Domestic Violence Survivors

September 22, 2016
Press Release

Washington, DC—In response to a pervasive lack of legal assistance for domestic violence survivors, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Joe Kennedy (MA-04), Don Young (AK-AL), and Susan Brooks (IN-05) today introduced the bipartisan, bicameral POWER Act, which would help connect victims with legal representation. Studies have shown that survivors who can afford or access a lawyer successfully obtain restraining orders in 83% of cases, compared to 32% without a lawyer. 
 
“The frequency of domestic violence is more prevalent than most realize—nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S. This staggering statistic will not change and could become worse if we don't empower survivors with the support they need to move forward,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “In Hawaiʻi, 575 domestic violence survivors seek support from local programs and services every single day, and too often, their needs go unmet. The POWER Act will give domestic violence survivors in Hawaiʻi and across the country access to affordable legal services as well as the protection that is often needed for themselves and their families.”

“For the victims of domestic violence, our justice system should be a safe haven,” said Rep. Joe Kennedy. “Instead, too many survivors show up in court and face the very same fear and intimidation they are trying to escape. Without access to legal assistance, many confront their abuser alone in court, victimized once again. The POWER Act will help restore the promise of equal protection for the millions of domestic violence victims across our country.”

The POWER Act would require each U.S. Attorney’s office to annually host a public event supporting pro bono legal services for survivors of domestic violence. The U.S. Attorneys would report to the Department of Justice which will then compile a single report to Congress each year summarizing the events and discussing their effectiveness.
 
Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), introduced a companion version in the Senate (S.2280), which passed with unanimous support.

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