For the first time, a new California law takes into account “the full context” of the lives of domestic abuse survivors.
Economic justice can help victims of domestic violence who have been criminalized almost immediately and in a real way. There are numerous survivors who come from largely black and brown areas, which have large income disparities, she said, and they often have to work and care for their children at the same time.
Sen. Sydney Kamlager sponsored a new California law that advocates for victims of domestic violence, as the Family Violence Law Center in Oakland is embracing (D-Los Angeles). Last November, it was approved by both the Assembly and Senate. In October, Gov. Newsom signed it into law, and it went into effect on Jan. 1.
Support for survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence, and human trafficking is provided under Assembly Bill 124 (AB 124), often known as the “Justice for Survivors bill.”
All aspects of a person’s life and experiences are taken into account when making decisions in the criminal justice system in California.
However, I believe that the concept of trauma-informed sentencing can begin even before a person has been charged with a crime.
At the Family Violence Law Center, an organization that works to promote justice and healthy relationships by assisting diverse communities in Alameda County who have been impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, housing, and gender justice advocate Nashi Gunasekara believes it is critical to focus on crisis responders.
This can have a significant impact on whether or not a survivor ends up in the criminal justice system, she added, and may even prevent them from ever entering it in the first place. It’s nearly impossible to overstate the importance of these critical moments of crisis response.
As many as 94 percent of specific female prison populations were abused physically or sexually prior to their incarceration, according to statistics supplied by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Black women comprise 25% of the jailed population in California, but only 5% of the adult population, suggesting an overrepresentation of Black women in prison.
” According to the “Justice for Survivors” data document, dated May 26, 2021, “similar disparities exist for other people of color, including Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islanders, and Indigenous populations.
As a result, advocates who backed AB 124 argue that the legislation is particularly helpful for survivors who have been criminalized because the objective is to take into account things like a history of abuse or domestic violence as well as mental illness when charging or sentencing people.
“When you have the right people there responding to these moments of crisis where law enforcement may not be entirely equipped with the information and knowledge to assess those situations correctly, I think we’re not only helping survivors heal, but we’re also helping communities as well,” Gunasekara explained.
Working with victims and their families, the Family Violence Law Center helps people understand how they can become victims of the criminal justice system.
Reversing societal messaging that focuses blame and responsibility for abuse on victims themselves is one way to reduce the stigma for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, according to Marissa Seko, the Family Violence Intervention Unit Manager at the organization.
She emphasized the need to get the word out about what real accountability looks like for those who have done wrong.
According to Seko, power and control are the essential, core structures that enable domestic violence to persist. Seko revealed that one of her clients has been repeatedly traumatized by her abuser calling the police and submitting false Child Protective Services complaints as revenge for trying to escape the relationship.
A person who is causing harm can sometimes utilize the system against the person they are abusing because they have more race or gender privilege than the victim. A person’s financial resources play a role here as well as their credibility with police, as well as their ability to fight through family law boards.
According to her, her organization frequently sees abusers exploiting the system against survivors and using their powers against others with less information or access.
Seko believes that economic justice is a near-immediate, practical answer for domestic violence victims who have been criminalized.
There are numerous survivors who come from largely black and brown areas, which have large income disparities, she said, and they often have to work and care for their children at the same time.
It is estimated that 99 percent of domestic violence cases involve financial abuse, and victims frequently describe this as the primary reason for their continued association with or return to an abusive partner.
Seko added, “It’s difficult to survive or make decisions when one feels monetarily insecure.”