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NJ Needs Tougher Domestic Violence Laws, Says Senators [AUDIO]

Here are some shocking statistics from State Senator Barbara Buono; one in four women and one in seven men will become the victim of domestic violence at some time during their lifetime.

Ashlee Newman and State Senator Barbara Buono
Kevin McArdle, Townsquare Media

In 2010, there were over 74,000 domestic violence offenses reported by the police in the State of New Jersey and 38 of them culminated in a murder. Buono and other Senators are joining domestic violence prevention advocates in calling for adoption of three bills to modernize domestic violence laws in the Garden State.

“Domestic Violence Awareness Month may be coming in October, but domestic violence is an issue New Jersey residents face every single day,” says Buono. “We’re renewing the fight for stronger anti-domestic violence laws now so that as we turn the page to October, New Jersey can move toward becoming a safer place for the victims of domestic violence.”

The first bill known as “Heather’s Law” in honor Heather Newman, an Old Bridge woman murdered in December by her estranged husband after a series of domestic violence incidents involving physical, emotional and mental abuse. The bill would allow judges to order the use of electronic monitoring of those convicted of domestic violence or subject to a final restraining order. The measure is sponsored by Senators Linda Greenstein and Buono.

“My cousin Heather was brutally murdered by her abusive husband, Anthony Trapp on December 15, 2011,” explains Ashlee Newman, Heather’s cousin and director of the Justice for Heather Newman Coalition.

“Following the senseless act, Anthony kidnapped their two daughters and later committed suicide.”

The girls were later found unharmed. Ashlee feels tougher domestic violence prevention laws might have saved her cousin’s life.

“With the GPS tracking that the bill provides, the sole focus we see in this is protection. Protection is where the system failed Heather and by passing this law, our state is taking the first steps in the right direction to prevent other families from facing the sorrow that will forever plague my family.”

The second measure would require cell phone service providers in New Jersey to inform customers how they can deactivate GPS-based location services that allow cell phones, and their owners, to be tracked by other individuals.

The measure was introduced following the reporting of incidents that domestic violence victims were being stalked by their abusers using the GPS functions on their cell phones.

“These reports of cell phone stalking are alarming, underscoring how technology meant to keep families safe can become deadly in the wrong hands,” says Buono, prime sponsor of the bill. “Victims of stalking and domestic violence needed to be empowered to protect themselves and prevent their abusers from using a vital piece of technology to continue to threaten and put them in fear.”

The final measure would create the new crime of “impairing communication.” Impairing communication would occur when any person knowingly denies or impedes another’s attempt to seek assistance in protecting their health, safety or well-being. The bill would also add impairing communication to the list of crimes that could be considered domestic violence.

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