Bill seeks to make it easier for abuse victims to get restraining orders

Brandi Melissa told the Louisiana House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure Monday about the abuse she and her mother suffered throughout their lives at the hands of her father, whom she called her “sperm contributor.”

“Not only was I conceived of sexual violence,” Melissa said to the committee, “a hole in my brain literally exists today from enduring brutal domestic violence in utero.” 

When she was 6, Melissa’s mother took her three children and fled from Mellisa’s father, filed for a temporary restraining order and a divorce, Melissa called “a grueling process.”

Speaking of her mother, Melissa said, “She had to jump through a bunch of hoops and red tape that was overwhelming and, in my opinion, unnecessary before the (temporary restraining order) was finalized. Mind you, at the time my mom had a disabled child — me — and two other children to raise.”

Melissa’s testimony to the civil law committee Monday was on behalf of HB 55, which was introduced by Rep. Aimee Freeman (D-New Orleans). Freeman has described it as a bill that “simplifies the process” of getting a temporary restraining order in domestic abuse cases. That bill would loosen requirements for a temporary restraining order by removing the notarization requirement, Freeman said. Currently, victims of domestic abuse have to go to a clerk of court’s office, go to a notary  to execute an affidavit and then return to the clerk. The proposed bill would eliminate the need for a notary and simplify the process.

The committee advanced the legislation without objection.

The bill was introduced to the committee last week, but Freeman voluntarily deferred it when some lawmakers expressed the concern that removing the notary requirement could open the door for people pretending to be someone else.

Freeman amended her bill to state that a person filing an affidavit seeking a temporary restraining order  is doing so “under penalty of perjury. The bill would also require the name and signature of a witness.