Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has now signed into law several bills dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault. Advocates at the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence And Sexual Assault are mostly pleased with lawmakers’ efforts.
Tara Muir, the public policy director for the coalition, said all six bills her organization was following passed and that the two most exciting pieces of legislation were somewhat small.
One bill would extend the length of protection orders.
“Starting this year when a survivor goes in to get not only a domestic violence protection order but also a stalking or a sexual assault protection order, the judge has the ability to issue those for up to three years. So, nobody has to go back into court every year and reopen all the old wounds,” said Muir.
Another passed measure will allow courts to order phone service providers to open accounts for victims of domestic abuse, which would let them keep their own phones and phone numbers.
“And it seems so little but it’s such a huge barrier for victims who are trying to leave that they keep access to that lifeline,” she said.
Muir characterized this session as “The Year of the Survivor,” and says the #MeToo movement put a spotlight on the issue.
“I think more than anything, just it being in the national news all the time, there was no way legislators couldn’t have it in even the back of their minds when they were making decisions about what to support and what not to support,” Muir said.
Additional bills that passed included increased penalties for domestic violence and stalking, guidance for healthcare providers when dealing with sexual misconduct, and better child sexual abuse education and prevention.