domestic violence

‘Jennifer's Law:' Proposed Bill Would Include Coercion as Form of Domestic Violence

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Monday marked two years since the disappearance of Jennifer Dulos. Investigators believe the mother of five was murdered by her estranged husband Fotis Dulos at her New Canaan home. Her body has yet to be found.

This legislative session there is a domestic violence bill in Jennifer's honor that already has Senate approval.

“It’s a sad time for many. She was a wonderful person and a beautiful person,” Attorney Rueben Midler said.

Even two years after her disappearance, divorce attorney Rueben Midler continues to maintain attorney/client privilege with missing New Canaan mother of five Jennifer Dulos.

“After the initial orders were entered, Jennifer decided to change counsel and asked our firm to represent her,” Midler said.

Midler has plenty to say about the legislation up this session, Senate Bill 1091, first introduced as “Jennifer’s Law,” aimed at changing Connecticut’s domestic violence laws.

“I think the goal of the legislation might be laudable but the execution in my opinion of the actual intent needs to be worked on,” Midler said.

“This is a game-changer,” Sen. Alex Kasser (D- New Canaan) said.

The bill, co-sponsored by Kasser, who represents Jennifer’s district, calls it groundbreaking domestic violence legislation two years making that can’t wait any longer.

“Dozens and dozens of survivors started contacting me and telling me their stories and saying my situation is just like hers,” Kasser said.

The reform includes nearly a dozen new statues. Among them, for the first time, is including coercive control as a form of domestic violence in Connecticut. It's defined in part as controlling, regulating or monitoring a household or family member’s movements, communications, daily behavior and economic resources along with depriving them of basic necessities or isolating them from family or loved ones. The law would allow victims subject to coercive control to file restraining orders against their abusers.

“This is truly a life saving measure to update our laws so that the full spectrum of abuse physical and non-physical will be recognized,” Kasser said.

Midler says the reform could open the door for some to take advantage of the system and falsely allege economic coercion. He says true family law reform would mean putting more judges on the bench to tend to an overly burdened system.

“If you could have your case assigned individually to one judge that may cut out a lot of the sort of ability of people to play the game,” Midler said.

For domestic violence victims, the legislation could mean the difference in a years-long battle for protection.

Two years have passed since Jennifer Dulos, a mom of five from New Canaan, disappeared.

“It’s so hard, I’ve been going through this for so long so long and every day it’s a run,” one domestic violence victim said.

There are hundreds of others experiencing the same thing.

“We can’t have another Jennifer, you can’t open up the news and see this. It doesn’t matter what town what city, this has to stop,” Kasser said.

Jennifer’s family and friends say they are in support of Senate Bill 1091, they released this statement on Friday reading in part:

“It is our hope that changing the legal definition can help change the outcomes for people in abusive relationships. Intimate partner violence cuts across the socioeconomic spectrum and affects people of all genders. Jennifer’s case has received a great deal of attention, but the stories of most people affected by partner violence are never told. Our hearts are with all of the victims and survivors, their families, children, and loved ones.”

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