Public Policy Work

MCEDV strives to bring the voices of survivors to discussions of public policy, and to center our solutions on those most impacted by abuse.  To create a world free from domestic abuse and violence, we need to foster a society which values the whole of people’s lives, recognizes complexity, and understands the many ways that abuse intersects with peoples’ entire lived experiences, including their safety, health, work, parenting, and overall well-being.  

This means that in our policy work, we seek to…

  • Advocate for policies and programs that will make survivors safer.  We support federal funding for the Violence Against Women Act, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, and the Victims Of Crime Act, the core programs that sustain Maine’s response to domestic abuse and violence. MCEDV engages with state-level partners to inform planning and implementation of programs funded with these resources.
  • Foster Accountability. We seek to hold people who use abusive behavior to account for their actions through the civil and criminal justice systems, as well as through community-based initiatives and options that, when safe and appropriate, reduce incarceration rates. Accountability efforts are not reserved for the justice systems alone and include efforts in workplaces, schools, and other community spaces to send the message that abusive behavior will not be tolerated. 
  • Advance economic justice. Perpetrators of domestic abuse and violence often use finances as a way to keep their partners trapped; too often, the option of whether to leave the abusive partner is determined by a survivor’s economic outlook, rather than their own internal choice making. Our member advocates work daily with people who are trying to put food on their tables and keep their homes warm, while at the same time dealing with the impacts of their partner’s abuse. At MCEDV, we know that helping people escape abuse means making it to they have the option to leave as soon as they begin to feel concerned about their partner’s behavior, rather than remaining trapped by financial circumstance until things get really bad and they might qualify for special resources as a victim. Making our system of public benefits accessible and addressing the systemic gaps in our economic safety net are key parts of creating that option for many in our state.
  • Support reproductive rights. A survivor’s reproductive health is often a target for an abuser’s coercive and violence behaviors. MCEDV supports access to birth control; STI screening and treatment; and abortion care. We support these elements of reproductive health care because for individuals to live free from coercion and control, we must have autonomy over our own bodies – and because a survivor’s ability to choose whether or not she gets pregnant is foundational to her long-term safety and economic stability.
  • Work on behalf of children impacted by abuse. Our longtime partnership with Maine’s Office of Child and Family Services places a domestic violence advocate in child welfare offices across the state, assisting thousands of families each year and helping keep protective parents and their children together. Thanks in large part to the Office on Violence Against Women’s Rural Grant Program, the partnership has shifted the ways in which OCFS policy and practice approach complex cases involving domestic abuse.
  • Support LGBTQ+ survivors. LGBTQ+ folks experience abuse at the same, if not greater, rates than the heterosexual population; bisexual and trans-identified folks are at particularly high risk. Yet many are afraid to reach out for help because of the ways our culture discriminates against and devalues LGBTQ+ people. We cannot separate the realities of transphobia and homophobia—which includes how these tools are used by perpetrators against their partners—from our efforts to end domestic abuse. MCEDV has signed on to efforts in opposition to bathroom bills and similar initiatives because we see how the attitudes that foster fear of and contempt for LGBTQ+ people are related to the root causes of domestic abuse and violence.
  • Expand access to health care. Access to quality, affordable health care is crucial for survivors of abuse, many of whom suffer both short and long-term impacts resulting from their partners’ behavior. The survivors with whom we work—many of whom have health conditions related to abuse, including chronic pain, reproductive health concerns, substance use disorders and mental health diagnoses—need coverage. MCEDV supports efforts to improve affordability of health care, while at the same time guarantee high-quality coverage for all Mainers and ensuring that no survivor goes without access to care because of a pre-existing condition.
  • Support New Mainers. Many immigrants and refugees have experienced trauma, including domestic and sexual violence, before they arrived in Maine. Linguistic and cultural barriers already present challenges to reaching out for support. And now, current immigration enforcement efforts are leaving our neighbors afraid to reach out for help because of fears of deportation. MCEDV supports the right of all people, regardless of immigration status, to seek refuge from violence and abuse. No one should feel compelled to endure abuse because they are afraid of what will happen to their family if they call for help.

Legislative Highlights

From the 1st Session of Maine’s 129th Legislature:

An Act to Ensure Proper Prosecution of Crimes Involving Domestic Violence and Enhance Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence  
(Pub. Law 2019, Chp. 412) 

This legislation, sponsored by Representative Lois Reckitt, makes it a felony crime to violate a protection from abuse order if the defendant has two prior convictions for violating a protection from abuse order, and it appropriately classifies the most serious felony assaults against a family or household member as domestic violence aggravated assaults in Maine’s criminal code. Read why these changes are so important to enhancing survivor safety and accountability for abusers in Maine here.

An Act to Provide Relief to Survivors of Economic Abuse 
(Pub. Law 2019, Chp. 407)  

This legislation, sponsored by Representative Jessica Fay, responds to the pervasive problem of economic abuse in our state. The new law codifies “economic abuse,” expands the range of monetary relief available to survivors in protection from abuse proceedings and enhances consumer protections for survivors in Maine who have experienced economic abuse by creating a process for credit repair and debt collection relief.

Essential Funding Increase for Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention  
(Pub. Law 2019, Chp. 343) 

Legislation sponsored by Senator Erin Herbig proposed a $5 million increase in state funding across two years for prevention and intervention services to help address domestic and sexual abuse and violence in Maine – the first in twenty years. With the support of Governor Mills, Maine’s Joint Standing Committees on Health and Human Services and Appropriations, and legislators across the state, MCEDV and our member organizations will receive a one-time allocation of $2.5M from the Fund for a Healthy Maine over the 2020-2021 biennium to enhance available services. We will continue to work with Governor Mills and the Maine Legislature to achieve this essential funding on a continuing basis.

 

MCEDV Legislative Review