Starting this week new changes set to go into effect for Connecticut’s domestic violence laws.
“This law really empowers victims to come forward if they’ve never been physically harmed,” Christine Cocchiola, an intimate partner violence advocate and doctoral candidate focusing on coercive control at NYU said.
First introduced by former Senator Alex Kasser and now with the governor’s signature, the first of its kind revision to Connecticut’s domestic violence laws are set to take effect starting July 1.
Dan Cargill, director of Law Enforcement Services for Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence says beginning on Thursday any offender who violates a restraining or protective order will face an additional family violence crime charge.
“It’s a benefit to be able to track through a judicial process of what the offender is actually doing and tying it all with the family violence,” Cargill said.
Coercive control will also become a factor for judges to consider when reviewing restraining order applications. It’s defined in part as controlling, regulating or monitoring a household or family member’s movements, communications, daily behavior and economic necessities or isolating them from family or loved ones.
“It would be remiss of me not to mention how family court judges seem to really not recognized this,” Cocchiola said.
Cocchiola says she and the Connecticut Protective Moms advocacy group now plan to start providing education on coercive control to the Connecticut Bar Association.
“The system is not working very well right now and we need to actually begin educating on this topic so that people become more aware of what it actually looks like,” Cocchiola said.
“There’s always room for growth both on law-enforcement and judicial,” Cargill said.
Cargill says the coalition will now be working with the Connecticut Police Officer Standards and Training Council and state police to develop standardized training on coercive control across the state. He says he’s confident Connecticut’s family court judges will also adapt to the new domestic violence definition.
“I believe judicial will do a very good job of identifying these and the processes that they need to have changed,” Cargill said.
The legislation is informally known as "Jennifer’s Law," in honor of both Jennifer Dulos and Jennifer Magnano. Both women were victims of domestic violence.
Jennifer Magnano’s daughter, Jessica Rosenbeck, released the following statement Tuesday about the bill going into law writing, “We are incredibly grateful that the law was supported, passed and signed; that being said we must now take action and make sure its implemented. We had Jen’s law passed over 10 years ago and it was all but ignored, that cannot happen here. Connecticut Protective Moms has been working tirelessly on a continuing education program to teach how to implement the bill. This is a monumental step and one we’re optimistic will save lives.”