Bill would establish domestic violence offenses in Wyoming - KOTA Territory News

Bill would establish domestic violence offenses in Wyoming

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Trina Kershaw was molested at age seven by a family friend and raped at 13 by an uncle. So she spends a lot of time volunteering at the Gillette Abuse Refuge Foundation talking to other victims.

"I feel that if I can help at least one person by getting my story out then that's one less person that has to go through what I did," said Kershaw.

Domestic violence is a constant problem in Campbell County.

"Our agency served 431 people last year," said Margie McWilliams, the executive director of the Gillette Abuse Refuge Foundation.

"When it's a family member it makes it really hard because then you're not only dealing with turning in that family member, but a lot of times you're black sheeped in that family," said Kershaw.

The Wyoming Legislature is on the verge of passing a bill that would create the criminal offenses of domestic assault and battery.

"Right now, domestic violence is kind of a sub–category under the assault statute. So this bill would allow us to have our own statute for domestic violence. So I think the crime could be taken a little more seriously and there's a lot of differences between someone assaulting someone in a bar and somebody who lives in a house where there's domestic violence," said McWilliams.

"It'll simplify it by the simple fact that the statute will deal only with domestic violence," said Campbell County Sheriff Bill Pownall.

With added attention the hope is the law will lead to a decline in domestic assaults.

"Anytime that there's publicity about domestic violence that's out and against it is always a good thing," said Pownall.

"Make it a point to let people know that this isn't ok. That it is ok to talk about it. That it is ok to get help," said Kershaw.

The House already passed the bill and the Senate approved it for a second time on Wednesday. Just one more approval and it will go to Governor Matt Mead for his signature.

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