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Advocates for Domestic Violence Victims win Fair Access

By Joyce Kryszak

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-725827.mp3

Buffalo, NY – Many more victims of domestic violence will have access to protection orders through Family Court with a law passed last week by state lawmakers.

In the past, only certain victims of domestic violence could seek protection from their abusers in Family Court. Relatives, married people and those who had a child together were let in.

But that closed the door to hundreds if not thousands of other local victims.

Under the new law, abused victims who are in dating or same sex relationships also will be able to petition in Family Court. Kristen Luppino is the Domestic Violence Community Coordinator for the Erie County Coalition Against Family Violence. She said that before these victims had to turn to criminal court for protection. And she said that simply is not an option for everyone.

In Erie County Family Court there is a dedicated process for domestic violence cases. It allows victims to move through the system quickly and easily. The court processed nearly 1,800 petitions for protection orders last year.

Advocates say it is unclear how big of an impact the new law will have on those numbers.

Dan Johnston is Deputy Clerk for Erie County Family Court. He said they will be watching it very closely to make sure there is enough staff to meet any increased need.

Advocates say it took 20 years of lobbying to get the law passed. That effort culminated last year in a final push by a 200-member statewide coalition. They say the legislation, which passed unanimously at the end of the session, is expected to be signed into law by the governor.

Click the "listen" icon above to hear Joyce Kryszak's story now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.