A new law aims to help protect domestic abuse victims

A new law aims to help protect domestic abuse victims

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Victims of abusive relationships are now able to break their phone contract's without paying any fees.

Act 577 is a new law that goes into effect in July in Arkansas. The law allows any victim in a domestic violence relationship to remove their cell phone from their abuser's phone plan. Sponsor of the bill, Representative Jeff Williams, said AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint were all very helpful as he put the piece of legislation together.

“It's important to give anyone in a situation like that the opportunity to be able to leave the situation without that additional hurdle,” he said.

The victim will be allowed to put the cell phone plan in their name and their children, if any, will also be moved over. Williams said this new law will provide safety and stability for victims.

“Almost all of us have an app on our phone that says ‘Find my Phone’. It's also used by abusers to be able to track the people that they're abusing,” he said.

Dorca VanGilst, director of the Dorcas House, said this new law will bring relief to the victims. She said them being able to get a whole new phone and a whole new system is huge.

“I know some of them in here right now that are having that issue and they can't get on another plan because they haven't been released from the plan that they're on which again is attached to their abuser,” she said. “Each one of these steps and each one of these laws that go through is another way that women can actually be free. It's another way lawmakers are realizing this is still a problem.”

She said the law shows the women at her shelter that lawmakers care about their safety. Another way this law is helpful is it allows the victims to keep their phone numbers, text messages, emails, apps, and pictures when they switch to a new plan. The law officially takes effect July 1.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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