Protective orders could get needed extensions with proposed law

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SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Each year, thousands of Texas families fall victim to domestic violence. In San Marcos, one local organization says they are seeing a steady increase in the number of their clients seeking a protective order to escape the violence.

Unfortunately, sometimes that protective order isn’t long enough, but if passed a new state bill could change that.

Texas representatives are always looking at ways to make life a little better, whether that’s on the road, in your child’s school or safety in your own home.

“They’re thinking that no one’s out there to help them,” said Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center Director of Community Partnerships Melissa Rodriguez.

Each year, Rodriguez says more and more people are coming to the center looking for advice on how to get a protective order due to an abusive relationship. “It has basically doubled, it’s one of those situations that every time we move forward we are not sure, but if you build it they will come,” said Rodriguez.

A permanent protective order in Texas lasts up to two years. Rodriguez says many times victims are looking for something longer than two years. As the law is now, courts can enter a protective order for a longer period up to the lifetime if an offender has caused serious bodily injury to the victim or has two prior protective orders involving the same parties.

“Currently the way that is applied is two or more police reports, which isn’t always what happens. Often our victims don’t call the police, but there are other violent episodes,” said Rodriguez.

SB 712 would provide an update to the statute that allows victims to be eligible for longer term protective orders based on the victim’s experience of “acts constituting felony family violence.”

Rodriguez says that means victims wouldn’t have to file a police report, which in some cases could put the victim in more danger.

“We don’t know how people are going to react once police are involved, it makes the risk elevated and that much more fearful for them, their own safety, if they have children, there’s fear that CPS will be involved,” said Rodriguez.

If passed, victims would still have to produce documentation of an abusive event. “Keep copies of text messages, take photos if there are any,” said Rodriguez.

It’s a change Rodriguez says will add an extra layer of protection for those in an already bad situation.

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