Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Gov. Beshear, First Lady Join Legislators to Ceremonially Sign Long-Awaited Bill to Protect Victims of Dating Violence

Press Release Date:  Thursday, April 09, 2015  
Contact Information:  Kerri Richardson
Terry Sebastian

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear joined legislative leaders and advocates today to ceremonially sign House Bill 8, legislation that creates a unified, comprehensive system of civil protections in Kentucky for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

“The work put forth on House Bill 8 was a paradigm for the entire session – two chambers and two political parties working together, despite differences, to find common ground and pass much needed, meaningful legislation,” Gov. Beshear said. “One of the strengths of this bill is that it takes the best of what we have now in the way of our civil protective system, and makes that system work for every identified victim of dating and domestic violence.”

HB8 enhances the protective order process by creating an emergency protective order for victims of dating violence, which allows them to seek immediate protections that put the offender on notice that any further abuse or violation of the order is subject to arrest.

Advocates point out that a protective order is often enough to get an abuser’s attention and, faced with the possibility of arrest for violating the order, may deter further abuse. It also provides victims with a level of protection while their cases wind through the criminal justice system, if their abuser faces criminal charges. In fact, a recent University of Kentucky study found that 50 percent of the women who received a protective order reported that they experienced no violation of the order six months after obtaining it.

“Domestic violence is an atrocious crime on any level, but it is especially disturbing when abuse begins in adolescence and young people become victims,” said Mrs. Beshear. “In Kentucky, more than 14 percent of high school students have reported being a victim of dating violence, one of the highest numbers in the nation. HB8 gives these young people protection against offenders that they never had before. It puts the power back on the side of victims, and is a tool they can use to break the pattern of abuse in their lives.”

“I was pleased to see this legislation pass to add a necessary layer of protection to victims of dating violence. I hope this bill will bring dating violence and abuse to a halt in our state and I am thankful to everyone for their hard work in getting this measure passed,” said Senate President Robert Stivers.

“The passage of House Bill 8 is a major step forward for Kentucky and puts us back at the forefront among the states when it comes to stopping domestic violence,” said House Speaker Greg Stumbo. “I’m happy to see this measure become law and know it will make a true difference in the lives of those who will benefit from these protective orders.”

“As sponsor of House Bill 8, I was proud to work with my legislative colleagues, Governor and First Lady Beshear and many other stakeholders to come up with legislation that will extend much-needed protections to these new groups of victims,” said Rep. John Tilley, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee. “Kentucky has long played a front-line role when it comes to domestic violence prevention and awareness, but this was an area where more needed to be done. Now, with this law, we have what I think is a model for other states to follow.”

“I was thankful to see the final passage of House Bill 8, giving immediate protection to so many Kentuckians in need,” said Senator Whitney Westerfield. “I am honored to have worked alongside countless advocates to create these protections, and am thankful to all of those who have contributed to this legislation over the years. I certainly consider this one of the highlights in my time as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

HB8 sets a delayed implementation date of Jan. 1, 2016, to provide judges, clerks, prosecutors, law enforcement, attorneys and advocates time to adapt to the new system.