‘Kayla’s Act’ could provide more protections for domestic violence survivors

‘Kayla’s Act’ could provide more protections for domestic violence survivors
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 5:47 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A bill going through the North Carolina General Assembly could provide more protections for domestic violence survivors in court.

“Kayla’s Law” passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday. It’s set to go to the Rules Committee next before hitting the Senate floor. A similar bill was introduced to the House.

The bill was named after a Lumberton woman who was stabbed to death outside a grocery store last fall. The man charged with her death previously faced domestic violence charges, but they were dropped after she was too scared to go to some of the court dates.

The new law would allow victims of domestic violence to testify remotely if they believe being in the same room as the defendant would cause extreme stress or fear.

“Being able to have some choice in what that looks like, we know that domestic violence is all about power and control, and so entering into a system that you don’t have all power and control over, it is wonderful to be able to give a survivor that option,” said Kylie Wright, a court advocate with Domestic Violence Shelter and Services, Inc.

Wright said testifying remotely could not only provide a feeling of physical safety, but also emotional security by allowing someone to be in a space they’re comfortable in.

It also gives domestic violence survivors the chance to choose what’s going to be the best option for them as they navigate going to court.

“Some folks may feel so much more safe during a remote hearing, and others may want to be in the courtroom, and so just being able to give them the voice to decide what works best for them I think in all aspects of the process would just be helpful in making that a system that really benefits them,” Wright said.