Bill proposed to keep domestic violence victims safe from abusers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A plan is in the works to help keep victims of domestic assault safe from their abusers.

Middle Tennessee lawmakers plan to propose a bill requiring people arrested for domestic violence to be held in jail for a 12-hour “cooling off” period.

The idea is to give victims of domestic violence time to get out of their situations.

But is 12 hours enough time? Advocates at the Family Safety Center say it’s a start.

Gwen Turner, who works for the Family Safety Center, endured decades of domestic abuse.

“I spent, off and on, 20 years in a domestic violent relationship that was verbal, emotional, mental, physical and sexual,” she said.

Now she’s an advocate for victims.

Vernetta Eddleman, who is also with the Family Safety Center, said she is encouraged by the proposal.

“If that person is arrested that night, they can come here and that gives us more time to work with them, without the client worrying that person’s bonding out.”

Eddleman said there are other problems that need to be addressed. She said Memphis Police receive more than 400 domestic calls a month, and the only shelter for victims in the city has less than 30 beds.

“It’s very staggering, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “Many cases go unreported.”

Lawmakers plan to introduce the bill next year. Until then, Turner said it is important for victims to know they have options.

“We can provide you with a safety plan to help sustain you until the time when you can get out,” she said.

If you or someone you know needs help, there are resources available for domestic abuse victims in Memphis. Those include the YWCA, the Family Safety Center and the Shelby County Rape Crisis Center.

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