‘Anti-domestic violence’ bill signed

HONOLULU — Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Monday signed a state House bill that strengthens and enhances Hawaii’s criminal law prohibiting physical abuse of family or household members.

“I am proud that Hawaii’s domestic violence prevention law now protects same-sex couples,” said Kauai Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar. “I am also very proud that Kauai made this happen.”

Dist. 14 State Rep. Derek Kawakami introduced the bill at the request of the Kauai Domestic Violence Task Force and the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney. Bethany Compton of the YWCA Board of Directors, helped conceptualize the bill that Kawakami moved through the Legislature.

“Family is so important, and this bill I think recognizes that,” Kollar said.

 “It is our mission to seek justice for all victims of domestic violence, and thanks to the hard work of Ms. Compton and Rep. Kawakami, we now have another way to execute that mission.”

Until now, the law only applied to protect individuals who were related, had a child together, or had resided together.

The provisions of the new law extend domestic abuse protections to individuals who are in dating relationships, defined under the law as individuals in “a romantic, courtship, or engagement relationship. This is often, but not necessarily characterized by actions of an intimate or sexual nature, but does not include a casual acquaintance or ordinary fraternization between persons in a business or social context.”

The law previously required only a 24-hour separation and now requires police to separate the abuser from the abused for a minimum of 48 hours. This period of separation allows the victim, if necessary, to seek a restraining order or take other steps to ensure his or her safety.

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