Advocate for killed divorce bill says current laws unrealistic for victims

Advocate for killed divorce bill says current laws unrealistic for victims
Source: WDAM

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Mississippi legislators killed a bill that added domestic abuse as a grounds for divorce.

Committee Chairman, Andy Gipson (R)-Braxton, said that abuse is already a grounds for divorce under "habitual cruel and inhuman treatment" on Twitter.

Under current law, a victim must prove "habitual cruel and inhuman treatment" by having someone that witnessed the violence and proving that the violence occurred on more than one occasion. Domestic violence often occurs in an intimate setting, without witnesses.

Sandy Middleton, the executive director of The Center for Violence Prevention, said that current law isn't realistic.

"Many times the only people who corroborate the acts of violence are the children in the homes," said Middleton. "That's terribly traumatic for them, to have to do that, to testify against a father or parent. Then again it's terribly traumatic for them to have to continue to live in a violent home."

She says that children in battered homes are more likely to be abused and to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"It does take a traumatic, negative effect on all the parties," Middleton said.

Last year, Hattiesburg had three domestic violence homicides within days of each other. Middleton plans to push this issue again next year.