Critics: Act abandons some abuse victims

Advocates are pushing to extend protection orders to domestic violence victims in "unconventional" living situations.

The state Assembly has voted to give civil protection to these victims for the past 20 years, according to an attorney. However, the state Senate has not passed the amendment to the Family Court Act.

The group Sanctuary for Families believes the change is needed because more women are postponing marriage, but can still end up living with their abusers.

"You have to meet the jurisdictional requirements," said attorney Brett Figlewski. "Be married to or formerly married to your abuser, to have a blood relation or have a child in common."

A woman who only wants to be identified as Maria says she's in the process of trying to obtain a protective order against her ex-boyfriend. Maria says it's been hard because the abuse happened before the couple's son was born and they weren't married.

Her lawyer says although she testified that her boyfriend broke a vein in her neck, causing a stroke, the testimony was thrown out.

Under the Family Court Act, the elderly also have problems getting protection from unrelated caretakers who abuse them. Homosexuals struggle with the same issue.

"If it's enough to get health insurance, if it's enough to share credit cards and a bank account ? a lease on our apartment ? absolutely we're a family," said Miriam Marchany. She says she's battling to get an order of protection for her domestic partner against her own brother.

Advocates say they hope the Senate modifies the act before the legislative session expires.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

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