CHARLOTTE – A new law that takes affect Wednesday is designed to protect victims of domestic violence and many say it's a step in the right direction. Starting Dec. 1, anyone who violates a restraining order on a battered women's shelter property can be charged with a felony.
“Any measure to heighten security or to devise plans for protection for domestic violence victims, survivors is a plus,” said Vickie Evans, who has interviewed countless women while writing a book and a play about domestic violence. She's an advocate to end the cycle of abuse.
Mecklenburg County assistant district attorney Christa Sumwalt, who handles domestic violence prosecution, said she's seen a lot of changes in the past decade increasing the seriousness of domestic violence crimes but the first step is the victim reporting the incident and getting a protective order at the magistrates office.
“Having a safety plan and working with the domestic violence services that are provided in our agency are clearly still very important for victims even with the protective order in place,” she said.
Evans applauds the law, but is still concerned.
“A violation has to occur before you can step in to actually implement the law and then by that time it's too late,” she said.
Not all women being safe-housed by domestic violence programs stay at the actual shelter so prosecutors say they could argue this new law also protects those victims.