Tallahassee —

The Florida Senate today approved two bills, by Senator Ileana Garcia (R-Miami), to heighten protections for victims of domestic violence as well as the employees and domestic violence advocates of domestic violence shelters.  


“Today, the Florida Senate voted to stand with survivors of domestic abuse and the heroes working every day to provide necessary services to ensure the safety and recovery of this vulnerable population,” said Senator Garcia.  


Senate Bill 70 provides a new criminal offense to further protect the locations of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) certified domestic violence centers. Senate Bill 68 exempts from public record the personal information and addresses of DCF domestic violence shelters’ current or former staff, domestic violence advocates, and their families.


“We must do everything in our power to protect these survivors from their abusers. When victims of domestic violence seek refuge it is imperative that, for their safety, their location remains confidential,” said Senator Garcia. “I thank my Senate colleagues for supporting this legislation to strengthen protections for survivors of domestic abuse as well as the domestic violence advocates, staff, and their families, who work in these centers.”


“I am honored and proud that the Florida Senate voted to heighten protections for survivors of domestic violence and their advocates who provide critical, often life-saving, services,” said Shannon Sokolowski, Executive Director of the Dawn Center, a certified domestic and sexual violence center. “With the passage of Senate Bill 68 and Senate Bill 70, we can better protect survivors from their abusers, as well as those working in domestic violence centers, who shouldn’t have to sacrifice their own safety or their families’ safety while doing the important work that they do. We are thankful to Senator Garcia, and the entire Florida Senate, for working with us to close this gap in order to enhance the safety of survivors and advocates in Florida.”


Senate Bill 70 makes it a first degree misdemeanor, or a felony upon a second or subsequent conviction, for any person to maliciously publish, disseminate, or disclose any descriptive information or image that may identify the location of a certified domestic violence center.


Senate Bill 68 exempts certain information from public records for the current or former staff and domestic violence advocates of domestic violence centers certified by the DCF including home addresses, telephone numbers, photographs, and dates of birth of such personnel and their families.


Florida has 41 DCF certified domestic violence centers that provide crisis intervention and support services to adult victims of domestic violence and their children free of charge. These centers operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and provide services such as emergency shelter, crisis and information hotline, safety planning, counseling, education for community awareness, and training for law enforcement and other professionals. Many also provide legal and court advocacy, transportation, relocation assistance, economic empowerment classes, transitional housing, daycare, outreach services, rape crisis intervention, and prevention programs in local schools.


For more information, please visit www.FLSenate.gov.


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Originally published at https://www.flsenate.gov/Media/PressReleases/Show/4304

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