New Kansas laws aim to protect abuse and assault victims

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Several new domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking-related laws will go into effect in Kansas on Saturday.

A sexual assault and domestic violence survivor told KSN the new laws could be a game changer for victims, especially victims who are seeking help.

“I really felt like Kansas is finally stepping up and truly starting to recognize the severity of what happens to both men and women,” said the survivor who did not want to be identified.

The survivor said she took abuse from her husband for years.

“A lot of people like to blame the victim. A lot of people like to say well, ‘why didn’t you just leave?'” the survivor said.

The survivor eventually got help. Since then, she’s been sharing her message of survival. She said the new laws will strengthen her message.

“It may not help me now, but anybody in the future, I mean this is only going in the right direction,” she said.

A list of the changes effective on July 1, 2017 from the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence (KCSDV):
1. Senate Bill (SB) 101:
· The Protection from Abuse Act now has sexual assault added to the definition of “abuse.”

· The Protection from Stalking Act becomes the Protection from Stalking or Sexual Assault Act and clearly defines sexual assault for the purpose of getting a protection order as, “engaging in any sexual contact or attempted sexual contact with another person without consent or when such person is incapable of giving consent.”

· House Bill (HB) 2033 inserted into SB 101: Kansas Crime Victims Compensation now allows sexual assault victims to seek crime victims compensation for mental health counseling within two years of being notified of the identification of a suspect. This reflects the state’s work on untested and unsubmitted sexual assault evidence collection kits.

· HB 2176 inserted into SB 101: Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Examinations and Parental Notification adds exceptions to parental notification. When a hospital or medical facility has information that parent or guardian of a minor (who receives a sexual assault evidence collection examination) is the subject of a related criminal investigation or the medical professional, after consulting with law enforcement, reasonably believes the minor will be harmed if notification is given, notification to the parent or guardian is not required. This provides an additional layer of protection for minors who may be sexually assaulted by a parent or guardian.

· HB 2234 Inserted into SB 101: Infectious disease testing of certain offenders is now required to occur not later than 48 hours after the alleged offender appears before a magistrate. The court shall also order the arrested person to submit to follow-up tests for infectious diseases as may be medically appropriate.

2. SB 112:
· HB 2034 inserted into SB 112: Strangulation of an intimate partner is now a felony, signaling the critical need to recognize the lethality of this abuse. Strangulation stops the flow of blood to and from the brain, inhibits normal breathing and can result in immediate death.

· HB 2071 inserted into SB 112: Now, in a domestic battery case if presented with protective order information, courts will be required to consider current or prior protective orders when sentences are issued.

3. SB 124: In the past, judges have been able to consider evidence of emotional and physical spousal abuse when making custody decisions. This update provides a much clearer definition of domestic abuse, which now includes patterns of abusive behavior or threats used to gain control or domination as well as any act of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

4. HB 2128 inserted into HB 2301: The Kansas Open Meeting Act was amended to allow the Governor’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board to discuss fatalities in closed meetings.

Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download our News App and our Weather App for your phone and tablet. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.