Advocates gathered at the captiol Wednesday to eductate people about the realities of domestic violence during the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence’s 16th Annual Advocacy Day.
The latest numbers shows domestic violence murders in Kansas have reached a 20 year high, leaving advocates and lawmakers calling for more to be done to protect victims.
“It’s not just a group of women in the hallway of the capitol today for fun. This is serious,” said Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau. “People are dying at a high rate.”
Senator Faust-Goudeau from Wichita and Senator Dinah Sykes from Lenexa announced two new bills they hope will help.
Faust-Godeau’s bill would increase penalities for abusers, while Sykes’ bill focuses on housing protection for victims.
Her bill would prohibit landlords from denying housing to people just because they’ve been domestic violence victims.
It would also allow vicitms to break their lease if they leave for safety reasons.
Arnold Downing with the Topeka Housing Authority said rules like these are already in place for public housing.
He said expanding the rules to the private sector could really help victims.
“It’s very very clear that the purpose in this is to protect that family, to protect that person and not add any more financial burdens to them that than they may already have,” said Downing.
Michelle McCormick works with victims daily as a program coordinator for the YWCA.
She said financial hardship can make it much harder for vicitms to get out of dangerous situations.
“Those financial realities, those financial hardships absolutely disproportionately affect people who are victimized,” said McCormick.
Both lawmakers and advocates agreed that more needs to be done to protect victims and that the bills are a step in the right direction.
For more information about what you can do to help victims of domestic violence, click HERE.