'Terrible policy idea' | CA bill could change how domestic violence crimes are reported


Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, economic, and emotional/psychological abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence varies dramatically.


In the United States, more than 10 million adults experience domestic violence annually.

  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men experience sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime with ‘IPV-related impact’ such as being concerned for their safety, PTSD symptoms, injury, or needing victim services.

  • Approximately 1 in 5 female victims and 1 in 20 male victims need medical care.

  • Female victims sustain injuries 3x more often than male victims.

  • 1 in 5 female victims and 1 in 9 male victims need legal services.

  • 23.2% of women and 13.9% of men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This includes a range of behaviors (e.g. slapping, shoving, pushing) and these behaviours might not (in some cases) be considered “domestic violence”.

  • From 2016 through 2018 the number of intimate partner violence victimizations in the United States increased 42%.

  • On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines nationwide receive over 19,000 calls.

National Network to End Domestic Violence (2020).

These statistics are alarming! Now there is a terrible policy idea that could change how domestic violence is reported in California. The assembly bill would remove the requirement that a health practitioner must make a report to law enforcement when they suspect a patient has suffered physical injury caused by assault or abusive conduct.


AB 2790 would remove the requirement that a health practitioner make a report to law enforcement when they suspect a patient has suffered physical injury caused by assaultive or abusive conduct. The bill would, on and after January 1, 2024, specify that a health care practitioner is not civilly or criminally liable for any report that is made in good faith and in compliance with these provisions.


This bill would instead require a health care practitioner who suspects that a patient has suffered physical injury that is caused by domestic violence, as defined, to provide brief counseling, education, or other support, and a warm handoff, as defined, or referral to local and national domestic violence or sexual violence advocacy services, as specified. The bill’s co-sponsor, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, tweeted in part, "Research has shown that mandatory reporting to law enforcement can keep survivors of domestic and sexual violence from seeking health care."


“This is quite outrageous. This bill makes absolutely no sense," said San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan who opposes the bill.


"Imagine a victim arrives stabbed multiple times to the hospital and the doctor cannot report to law enforcement. It's unfathomable that we will subject our victims to this treatment. How is this going to protect them? They didn’t protect themselves! They didn’t stab themselves," said Stephan.


The bill, AB 2790, has already been approved by the State Assembly and is due to be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee in August.


UPDATE: Great news!!! AB 2790 died in committee.


If you are a victim of domestic violence, here are some resources including violence shelters and domestic abuse hotlines.


Domestic Violence Shelters in Orange County

Domestic Abuse Hotlines

  • Human Options 877-854-3594

  • Interval House 562-594-4555, 714-891-8121, 800-978-3600

  • Laura’s House 949-498-1511

  • Women Transitional Living 714-992-1931

Globalhope365.org


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