House Bill 1948 would extend protection to abuse victims beyond family members.
Right now, the law only protects victims who are related or who share a household with their abusers.
"Currently, the statute reads it only allows victims to file VPOs against family members. They could be by blood or marriage living in the household," District 89 State Representative José Cruz said.
Cruz has proposed a house bill that would broaden the terms.
"What this does, it opens it up to allow these victims to open themselves in court against abusers," Cruz said.
"If the violence of the perpetrator extends to other members who are not related by blood or marriage, those victims cannot seek relief through court by order of protection," YWCA Oklahoma City senior director of specialized training Brandon Pasley said.
Pasley works with victims that could directly impact their clients.
"We often see violence happening long before a marriage in place," Pasley said. "We can encounter a broad range of behavior, emotional and psychological impact of victims of domestic violence. Not only victims themselves but it also includes the children, any other family members and the pets."
The bill has passed through the committee. There is still a long way to go.
"We are still very early in the states of this process, but if it passes, it could be a law November 2021," Cruz said.
If you are a victim and need help, call the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence And Sexual Assault at 800-522-7233. The number will be answered 24/7 by YWCA Hotline staff for help anywhere in the state.