Only in Kentucky . . .

Only in Kentucky . . .

Kentucky stands alone as the only state with NO civil protection for victims of dating violence.  That’s right . . . We are the only ones who fail to recognize that being a victim of intimate partner violence does not depend on where you live, but on the nature of the relationship you are in.

What does this mean to you?  Let’s take a common example.  My mom was 68 when my father passed away.  After a year or so, she entered the dating world, albeit somewhat tentatively.  She dated a man for about 6 months.  Had he become abusive, she could not have sought a protective order to keep him away from her because, at her age, she was certainly not going to live with him (or any man, for that matter).  Her ability to seek protection depends SOLELY on where she chooses to live, not whether or not she is being abused by an intimate partner.

Similarly, I have a 17 year old daughter.  If she dates a boy and he becomes abusive, she, too, cannot seek civil protection to keep him away from her, her home, or her school.  If she gets pregnant and has a child, she can get protection.  If she is responsible and uses birth control, she cannot get protection.

Sound absurd?  It is.  Your aunts, mothers, grandmothers, friends who are entering the dating world after a divorce or the death of the spouse cannot get protection from an abusive partner unless they put aside their values and live with their partner.  Your daughters, nieces, cousins, friends cannot get protection from abusive dating partners unless they get pregnant and have a child or choose to live with their partner, despite what their religious beliefs or family values might dictate.

Perhaps even more absurd than the current reality is the reality two members of the General Assembly are trying to create.  For more than five years, advocates and a few dedicated members of the General Assembly have tried, in vain, to bring Kentucky’s antiquated law in line with that of the rest of the country and make civil protection available for victims of dating violence.  For more than five years, we have failed.  But now 2 members of the General Assembly, Sen. Jared Carpenter and Rep. Gerald Watkins have a solution:  Give individuals with a protective order permission to carry a concealed weapon with no training and no permit.

Essentially, let’s deny protection to the dating violence victims who so desperately need it, but arm those who are already able to obtain a protective order.  Seriously?

Let’s think this through.  We know protective orders are effective at stopping or reducing domestic violence.  A recent study by UK professor Dr. T. K. Logan found that protective orders stopped or significantly reduced violence in approximately 90% of all cases in a six month follow up.  We also know that presence of firearms, regardless of who owns them, significantly increases the risk of a domestic violence victim being killed.  A California study revealed that 20% of all women murdered were killed with a gun by an intimate partner.  When the woman owned a gun, that number increased to 45%, more than double.  More guns does not mean more protection; they mean more deaths.  Finally, women who kill their batterers (which would seem to be the point of these legislative proposals) serve an average of 15 years in prison, compared with the average two to six year sentence for men who kill their intimate partners.  This is true despite the fact that most women kill in self-defense.

All of this leads one to wonder:  What are Rep. Watkins and Sen. Carpenter trying to accomplish?  Neither has spoken in favor of HB 8 or SB 68, both of which would extend protection to dating violence victims, so it’s probably safe to assume that they are not looking to actually protect more women.  Do they want more women killed?  That’s what more guns in domestic violence situations will mean.  Do they want more women incarcerated for longer periods of time?  Because that’s what happens when women kill their violent partners, even in self-defense

What is it going to take to get our legislators to realize that being victimized by an intimate partner does not depend on your address but on the nature of your relationship?  Advocates and thinking people throughout the Commonwealth have been wondering this for years.  So instead of expanding protection to those who need it, we’re going to arm those who already have protection and expect them to take matters into their own hands?  This is inane.

This is the NRA’s bill, so those in other states should prepare themselves for the same fight that we are now having in Kentucky.

Here’s the real question:   Is this legislative effort really an expression of concern for battered women or an expression of concern for the continued support of the NRA?

You decide.