Changes Coming to VA Protective Order Laws - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Changes Coming to VA Protective Order Laws

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Governor Bob McDonnell (R) is poised to approve sweeping changes to Virginia's protective order process.

"This law will help us turn more victims into survivors," said Gena Boyle, of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Action Alliance.

But she stressed that the work isn't finished. Supporters of the new law now must prepare Virginia's court system for the changes, which are designed to make it easier to obtain protective orders.

"The other huge area will be in training -- law enforcement, judges and our own advocates about the changes in the law, what the new petition process will look like," Boyle said.

Next month, McDonnell will launch a new panel charged with tackling the problem of dating, domestic and sexual violence in Virginia. The group will meet for the first time in late April and must submit a report to the governor by October.

"It's an aggressive agenda," said Marla Decker, the state's public safety secretary, who is leading the effort.

The group's work will include a specific focus on violence at Virginia's colleges and universities.

"Once students are there and on campus, it's our responsibility in Virginia to ensure that they are safe, and part of that is for them to understand that they need to report," Decker said. "The education pieces is something that's very important."

Members could suggest legislation to the General Assembly in time for the 2012 session.

"When a victim is willing to report and seek justice, the least we owe them is a system that's set up for a comprehensive response," Boyle said.

If you or someone you know is a victim of dating, domestic or sexual violence, you can call the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238. The hotline is free, confidential and open around the clock.

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