Committee Approves SAFE Act

Madison—The SAFE Act came one step closer to final passage by the State Legislature today as a key Senate committee unanimously recommended approval of the bill. The legislation would implement model court procedures to verify that domestic and child abusers with restraining orders surrender their firearms in compliance with a current law.

“Wisconsin is on the verge of bringing active enforcement to this law, and that has the potential to save the lives of women, children and men across our state,” said Patti Seger, executive director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin. “The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation astronomically increases the chances of homicide, and that is why disarming batterers during the restraining order process has been shown to decrease domestic violence homicides by close to one-fifth.”

The State Assembly already passed the measure early last week. Advocates believe the Senate committee’s approval today should clear the way for the full State Senate to send the SAFE Act to the Governor’s desk.

“We urge the Senate to take up the SAFE Act as soon as it returns to the floor in March,” said Seger.

Committee vote followed an emotional hearing

During the public hearing on the bill, which also took place last week, committee members heard testimony from survivors of domestic violence and law enforcement officers.

Teri Jendusa Nicolai recounted how her ex-husband used a gun that he was required to surrender to kidnap her. During the ordeal, he left her for dead in a storage locker. Nicolai said that despite her pleas she couldn’t get officials to force her abuser to surrender his guns prior to the incident.

Another survivor, Sarah Engle from Marshfield, Wisconsin, was nearly killed after being shot in the head by her ex-boyfriend, when he illegal possessed a firearm while subject to a domestic abuse restraining order. Engle’s mother was shot and killed during the incident.

“I am living proof of how important it is that we do everything we can to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers,” Engle told the committee.

Law enforcement officials addressed the committee and said the bill would assist them in keeping victims secure. They also argued the legislation would save the lives of police officers, who are called to intervene in volatile domestic abuse situations. 

Selected Resources

Voting Guide for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Victim Advocates

This guide is meant to help advocates assist their clients with the voting process. With the passage of the Wisconsin photo ID voting law, there is a lot of confusion about who can vote and how they can vote.  The guide explains how survivors can register to vote and ensure they have the proper documentation to vote.   In this volatile political climate and budgetary climate, we need survivors’ voices and participation at the ballot box now more than ever.   

Hope. Vision. Future. A Plan for Providing Services to Domestic Violence Victims in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Governor’s Council on Domestic Abuse has created a long-range plan for serving Domestic Abuse victims. This document includes an overview of Wisconsin Domestic Abuse Programs, including statistics, services, populations served, and a financial picture. Recommendations address the issues of Economic Justice, Financial Self- Sufficiency, Housing, Legal assistance and Primary Prevention.

2011-2012 Legislative Agenda
WCADV and WCASA Milwaukee Sick Pay Brief

Domestic and sexual violence take a tremendous toll on public health and safety in Milwaukee. This brief, filed by WCADV and WCASA, supports the Milwaukee Paid Sick Days Ordinance which permits victims paid leave to obtain services from these organizations.

2013-2014 Legislative Agenda
Changes to Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance for DV Victims - Dec 2009

WCADV Policy Development Coordinator, Tony Gibart, offers the following summary of how Wisconsin unemployment statutes have changed in response to The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

DCF Brochure about Domestic Violence and W-2

This brochure from the Department of Children and Families explains some of the resources and protections available to W-2 participants who are or were victims of domestic violence.  It is to be given to all W-2 applicants and participants. Hmong and Spanish versions are also available. 

Fact Sheets Related to Brookfield Shooting

These two fact sheets cover topics that were implicated by the shootings at a Brookfield, Wisconsin salon on Sunday, October 21, 2012.  They address (1) domestic violence and the workplace and (2) restraining orders and firearm surrender.