A new bill currently working its way through the Missouri General Assembly would allow victims of abuse to obtain a lifetime order of protection.
Missouri House Bill 744 could give another option at the judges’ discretion to grant lifetime protection orders against extreme, obsessive abusers. The bill lists numerous abuse cases that the protection order would cover, including assault, battery and coercion.
“What the order of protection does is give the person who has the order protection against another person, a feeling that they have some control over the situation,” said Associate Circuit Judge Keith Marquart. “If the order is broken, the police, the sheriff, the highway patrol are going to respond immediately and have cause to arrest just because the order was violated.”
HB 744 would take away the need for victims to return to court and request a new order of protection.
The Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence submitted a witness appearance form showing support for the bill, stating, “Survivors deserve safety, so we must continue to keep pace with the ways offenders find loopholes, such as those that are remedied in HB 744. This option is critical as some abusers are unrelenting; it is unfair and unsafe for a victim to have to repeatedly go back to court to request needed protection.”
Rita Miller, founder of the Foundation Recovery Center, LLC, said the bill is a step in the right direction but won’t resolve all issues.
“As we all know, the domestic violence offender, sometimes any protection order, even if it was a lifetime, is not going to make a difference to them,” Miller said. “I do see that for some they would not want to keep getting re-arrested. This will be a thing put in place to let them know that this part of your life, this relationship is over. And I think it would be a great thing.”
The bill also adds protection for a victim’s child and pet, stating, “that under full or ex parte orders, may be granted to restrain or enjoin an individual from committing or threatening to commit abuse against a pet.”
The bill now is in front of the Senate for consideration.