Learn about SB 612: Protecting Survivors of Violence - Women's Foundation California
AB 612 – Protecting Survivors of Violence

Domestic Violence Team
Jessie Ryan
Author: Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco

UPDATE: On August 19, 2013, Governor Brown signed AB 612 into law.

Sally Dominguez, a victim of domestic violence, was afraid to get a restraining order because her abuser threatened to kill her if she did. But to protect her life and the life of her child, she quickly got her things together, moved out of the apartment she was living in and found shelter in a place where her abuser could not find her.

It sounds like she made the right decision to leave and hide. But it wasn’t the right decision in the eyes of the law. Because she did not get a restraining order before moving out, Sally could not legally break her housing lease and was now forced to default on it. Here is a woman looking for safety from her abuser and she’s penalized because she did not stop to collect all the legal documents required of her.

For victims of violence, fleeing a dangerous situation in order to protect their family can be a matter of life or death. Many must break their leases and the law allows them to do so but only under two circumstances. To break their lease, they must show proof of violence in the form of a police report or a restraining order.

That does not work for many victims because they’re afraid to file a police report or access court services out of fear of retaliation.

However, many do seek help from other professionals such as mental and health care workers.

SB 612 (Leno) acknowledges this problem and wants to amend the current law by expanding the type of documentation allowed as proof of domestic violence, sexual violence, elder abuse or human trafficking. Those would include documents from domestic violence and sexual assault counselors, human trafficking case workers and mental health and health care professionals. SB 612 would also ensure confidentiality of such documentation and in doing so help keep California families safe.

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