By Zoie Richey
INDIANAPOLIS — With her own experience helping victims of domestic violence, Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, is pushing a bill that would put more virtual distance between victims and their abusers.
Sen. Erin Houchin speaks at a press conference Thursday. Houchin, is trying to promote Senate Bill 323 that gives helps domestic violence victims. Photo by Zoie Richey, TheStatehouseFile.com
“Having worked as a family case manager for the Department of Child Services, I’ve worked with victims of domestic violence to try to help them out of those very difficult situations,” Houchin said. “We don’t want to give them any additional reasons to stay in an abusive situation.”
Senate Bill 323 would allow domestic abuse victims to legally separate their cellphone plans from their abusers. It would also allow the victim to gain access to their child’s account.
If the victim is not the account holder, current law does not allow the victim to make changes to their account. That can prove dangerous as account holders can set up apps that track cellphones on their plan. The apps are designed for parents to monitor their children but can be used by an abuser to track a victim without their knowledge.
Catherine O’Connor, President and CEO of the Julian Center, said research shows one in four women and one in seven men will be a victim of domestic violence at some point in their lives.
“We all know that domestic violence is a pervasive and a persistent problem not only in our community but all over the country and the world,” O’Connor said. “The other thing we know is that domestic violence is all about power and control over another individual.”
O’Connor said perpetrators attempt to isolate victims from as many support systems as possible.
“It will allow a victim to keep their vital contact information and stay connected to their network, their family and friends, and most importantly have the ability to find shelter, support and guidance,” Houchin said.
Victims would be required to have an injunction from a judge for child abuse, domestic abuse or harassment to separate from a shared cellphone plan.
Mobile carriers AT&T and Verizon support the bill.
The Senate passed the bill 49-0. The bill now moves on to the House where it is scheduled to be heard in a Judiciary committee on March 13.
Zoie Richey is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.