New Bill Package Introduced to Help Prevent Domestic Violence

Pieces of Legislation establish protection for those domestically abused ranging from changing the definition of domestic violence to extending medical help and care.

TRENTON - Senator Vin Gopal introduced a Domestic Violence Bill Package into the State Senate today. The bill package is dedicated to Stephanie Parze’s family, who has suffered a terrible loss due to an abusive boyfriend one year ago this month. The bill package has been introduced in the Assembly by Assemblywoman Joann Downey. Two bills from the package are Senate companion bills for legislation previously introduced in the Assembly by Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Lisa Swain.

Edward Parze, Stephanie Parze's father, and founder of the Stephanie Nicole Parze Foundation said, "Domestic violence is one of the most underreported crimes in this country, it does not discriminate, anyone can fall victim to it. Domestic Violence is not just physical abuse, it is all about power, control and manipulation of the victim and it can take a turn for the worse and become fatal at any moment."

The bill package was put together to help protect those who suffer from domestic abuse. These bills include expanding the definition of domestic violence, seizing ammunition in response to domestic violence restraining order, increasing access to domestic violence screenings, giving survivors access to the income tax credit program, notifying family members when firearms are returned to the person charged with domestic violence, and giving those who suffered through domestic violence full benefit coverage for any mental health treatment and therapy. 

“Survivors of domestic assault deserve to be heard, believed, and protected. This bill package is a positive action toward shining light on an issue that is too often ignored and not talked about because it may be uncomfortable to discuss,” said Senator Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth). “We all know that things that are the most uncomfortable to talk about, are the things we have to talk about, and the protection of these survivors is of the top most importance.”

“No one is immune to domestic violence,” Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Monmouth) said. “Domestic violence can unfortunately happen to anyone - women, men, children, between spouses and even friends. It can be one of the most difficult types of situations to talk about and to escape from, but we must have this conversation to give support to those who need it, and to work towards preventing it from happening to anyone else.”

“Domestic violence is a heartbreaking reality for far too many people in New Jersey," Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle said (D-Bergen). "For individuals and families who find themselves in these circumstances, we must ensure that they have access to every measure of support to help them reclaim their lives and move on from the trauma of abuse.” 

"Domestic violence affects people from all walks of life and we must do everything in our power to combat it," said Assemblywoman Swain (D-Bergen, Passaic). "The physical traumas and bruises of domestic violence are easier to see than the psychological scars on the inside but these are just as important to treat. I am proud to work with Senator Gopal on this vital issue."

Below is the list of bills introduced in the Senate and Assembly.

S-3147/A-4919: Revises definition of domestic violence to include psychological abuse and economic abuse.  

S-3103/A-4923: Requires seizure of ammunition and certain firearm components in response to domestic violence restraining order or conviction.

S-3112/A-4920:  Requires obstetrical providers to perform domestic violence screenings and all health care professionals to take certain actions to prevent perpetrator of domestic violence from obtaining copies of victim’s medical record.

S-3113/A-4922:  Expands eligibility under New Jersey earned income tax credit program to allow taxpayers who are victims of domestic abuse to claim credit with filing status of married filing separately.

S-3015/A-3687: Requires certain family or household members and victims be notified when firearms are returned to persons charged with domestic violence or subject to extreme risk protection order.

S-3111/A-4645: Requires health insurance carriers to categorize mental health treatment and therapy received by victim of Domestic Violence as medically necessary treatment and provide full benefits coverage therefore.

S-3120/A-4921:  Requires public entities that operate websites or web pages pertaining to domestic violence to utilize certain electronic tools and security measures to protect online visitors who may be victims of domestic violence.