Today, the Assembly Women and Children Committee has approved two bills sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gabriela Mosquera and Angel Fuentes that provides increased protections and security for victims of domestic violence.

The first measure directs the Division on Women to audit the effectiveness of state, county and local response to domestic violence by sponsoring, at the county and local level, community safety and accountability audits throughout the state. The audit would have to include a systematic analysis of intra-agency and interagency policies and procedures used by, including: law enforcement agencies and the court system when investigating and prosecuting cases of domestic violence-related fatalities and near fatalities, as appropriate; and state and local agencies and organizations when providing services to victims of domestic violence.

Mosquera says, “Domestic violence trauma casts a wide net on both victims and the agencies responsible for combating this violence. By making sure that agencies at every level are equipped with the resources to respond effectively and cooperatively, we can hopefully provide victims with swifter assistance to ease the pain and psychological trauma.”

The second bill is known as the "New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act" or the "NJ SAFE Act." The measure would provide 20 days of leave time within one year of an incident of domestic violence or a sexually violent offense of which the employee or the employee’s family or household member was a victim.

“Domestic violence cases can present a huge disruption to a victim’s life,” explains Fuentes. “Pursuing legal justice and getting any necessary medical and mental health treatment all require time and energy that cannot always be accomplished when working full-time. By providing additional leave time, hopefully we can give domestic violence victims increased support to overcome a very trying situation.”