Valley Trauma Center

New California Laws Aid Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Survivors

January 6, 2014

California State CapitolEffective January 1 of this new year, two changes to California state law are easing the burden of domestic abuse. 

The first will allow domestic abuse survivors to relocate more easily, a crucial step to safety for many individuals and families. Previously, a police or court order was required for families facing abuse to break a lease without penalties in order to relocate to a safer location unknown to their abuser. Now, the new law allows for a letter from a medical professional or counselor who deals with abuse cases to serve as the legal document releasing a victimized person or family from their lease. This will not only make the process faster, but also safer. Police and court orders are public record and can alert an abuser to their victim's relocation, whereas the new letters will provide a much more private means of moving quickly. With this rule, our center's counselors may be able to assist a victim to legally break a lease in order to move quickly. Please contact the center if you or someone you know is in need of this assistance.  

The second change in California law protects domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking victims at work. Now, survivors can't be discriminated against because of their abuse. The legal change protects a survivor's job and encourages employees to alert their employers to the situation. As one teacher who was fired after her abusive ex-husband showed up at her campus said, "It shouldn’t be a silent, dirty secret anymore." The new law also requires employers to make reasonable safety accommodations, like changing work schedules, for their employees. 

We hope both these legal changes make it easier for abuse survivors to move beyond violence!