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Judiciary committee passes Jennifers' Law; bill would add to definition of domestic violence

The bill would add coercive control to the definition of domestic violence and put child safety as a priority in custody cases
State tourism, tolls and marijuana take focus for Democratic House leaders

HARTFORD, Conn. — The State's Judiciary Committee voted Thursday on whether to send "Jennifers' Law" to the state legislature.

According to the Committee's Clerk office, the bill passed the committee on a final vote of 34 to 4 and will head to Senate first for action. 

More than a third of all Connecticut women will experience some form of intimate partner violence or stalking in their lifetime, and this bill continues our more than decade-long effort to improve our state’s response to domestic violence," Senator Mae Flexer (D-Killingly) said. "Over the past years, our neighbors facing domestic violence have dealt with unprecedented obstacles to escape abusive situations. This bill builds on the lessons learned during this difficult year and expands more protections. The Connecticut legislature will continually learn and evolve on the issue of domestic violence in order to protect and serve our citizens, and today was a shining example of that."

Introduced in February, the bill would add coercive control to the definition of domestic violence and put child safety as a priority in custody cases by making domestic violence the first factor to consider, a lawmaker says.

The bill is being proposed by State Sen. Alex Kasser, who says coercive control includes psychological abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, and legal abuse.

“When women are the victims of abuse, they seek safety for themselves and their children. Often that means staying with the abuser because the danger of leaving is too great. But when victims do summon the courage to leave, we have a responsibility to believe and protect them.," said Kasser.

The law is named in honor of Jennifer Magano who was murdered in front of her children by her husband in 2007 and Jennifer Dulos, who went missing after dropping her children off at school. Her SUV was found in a New Canaan park. She has not been seen since.

On March 24, actress Evan Rachel Wood testified in support of the bill. 

The Westworld actress spoke off-camera on her own experiences with coercive control, domestic violence, and fear in her relationship with her former boyfriend, Marilyn Manson. She also submitted written testimony.

If the bill is voted out of committee it will be then sent to the State House and Senate. 

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