House unanimously passes bill that expands definition of domestic abuse

    BRIEF

    A bill that expands Louisiana’s definition of domestic abuse passed unanimously in the House on Thursday with minimal debate.

    If HB 159 becomes law, the state’s new definition of domestic abuse would include “any act or threat to act that is intended to coerce, control, punish, intimidate, or exact revenge on the other party for the purpose of preventing the victim from reporting to law enforcement or requesting medical assistance or emergency victim services, or for the purpose of depriving the victim of the means or ability to resist the abuse or escape the relationship.”

    Rep. Malinda White (D-Bogalusa), who introduced the legislation, said to the House that the bill clarifies the definition of domestic abuse in the state.

    Andrea Carroll, an LSU law professor, said to the Louisiana House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure Tuesday that an expanded definition is necessary because “we know from all this social science research and evidence here that lots of domestic violence doesn’t begin with active physical abuse. It begins with coercion, control and isolation of the victim.” The expanded definition of abuse, she said, would include, for example, a partner exerting financial control to prevent a partner from leaving.

    “We believe that although it is an expansion of the view of domestic violence, it better represents the actual dynamics of domestic violence,” Carroll said to the committee.

    This new definition would then apply to “everywhere else in civil law, so that now we can create consistency,” Carroll said. Since Louisiana passed more than 150 new laws on domestic abuse over the past decade, “we have more than 38 different statutes with different definitions of domestic violence.”

    Rep. Blake Miguez, R-Erath, asked White if this bill interfered with current Second Amendment laws, and White said it doesn’t. White then agreed to work with Miguez to make sure the bill retains present Second Amendment laws.