Led by a record number of women policymakers in the Nebraska Legislature this session, a series of bills have been introduced to support survivors of domestic and sexual violence and allow them to live free from violence in communities throughout Nebraska. The introduction of these bills is a direct illustration of what we mean when say ‘representation matters.’ When women are at the table, they make effective public policy solutions that impact women and girls.
“And as we listen to survivors, we know that having effective public policies provides them with support and lets them know, in return, that we hear them. They are not alone, and they deserve healing and justice. By creating systems that honor their experience, we can provide them with support. Each of these bills do that,” said Tiffany Seibert Joekel, Women’s Fund research and policy director.
A bill to protect child trafficking victims, LB 516, will ensure that all children who have been bought and sold for sex/sex trafficked receive the services they need as abused and neglected children. Introduced by Senator Patty Pansing Brooks and co-sponsored by Senator Lou Ann Linehan, Senator Julie Slama and Senator Bruce Bostelman, the bill will address the fact that not all children in Nebraska who have been trafficked are receiving the help they need—especially if their trafficker is not a parent or caregiver.
When sexual assault survivors feel safe and supported throughout their interaction with medical and legal processes, they are more likely to report their assaults and work with the criminal justice system to hold perpetrators accountable, achieving safety for our communities and justice for survivors. LB 43, introduced by Senator Kate Bolz and co-sponsored by Senator Megan Hunt, will create a safe and supportive environment for all survivors to come forward to seek care and justice following their sexual assault.
Supporting survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault and stalking or harassment, LB 532 would clarify and strengthen the process of obtaining legal protection through protection orders. Introduced by Senator Machaela Cavanaugh and co-sponsored by Senator Hunt, this bill will help survivors access protection orders, which is a legal process that victims often undertake without the legal expertise of an attorney.
LB 249, introduced by Senator Sara Howard and co-sponsored by Senator Cavanaugh, Senator Matt Hansen, Senator Hunt, Senator Adam Morfeld, Senator Pansing Brooks, Senator Anna Wishart and Senator Carol Blood, will eliminate the deadline for victims of sexual assault to seek financial damages against their abusers. Victims of sexual assault may struggle for years to reach the point of being able to confront their abusers, and this change allows them to seek justice when they are ready.