LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AG) – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today unveiled a Laura’s Card to assist and empower victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Participating in the announcement were Representatives Charlotte Douglas (R-Alma) and Bob Ballinger (R-Berryville) and Angela McGraw, executive director of Women & Children First.
Laura’s Card was created through legislation sponsored by Rep. Douglas in the 2015 legislative session after many conversations with Laura Webb of Cabot. Webb is a survivor of domestic violence, but when she was victimized she did not know where to turn and voiced her concerns to Rep. Douglas about the need to provide resources to those in abusive situations. Now under Act 873, law enforcement officers must provide a resource information card to assist victims of crime and their families.
“As a former Lonoke County prosecutor, I have seen firsthand the horrific tragedy domestic violence situations can bring on families,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “In 2014 alone, the domestic violence shelters in Arkansas received almost 28,000 phone calls, of which nearly 35 percent were in a crisis situation. Together we can make a difference against these crimes that have no age, race, economic or geographic boundaries, which is why my office has produced and printed a Laura’s Card that will be distributed to all 75 counties – to sheriffs’ offices, police departments, advocacy groups and shelters. If we can save one life by sharing these resources, it is worth it.”
“Domestic violence is most often about control of the victim: physical, emotional, financial and educational,” said Rep. Douglas. “It is my hope that through Laura's Card we bring power to victims through access to their victim's rights and services that are offered to free them from a life of abuse. We must all work to turn victims into victors.”
“Domestic violence is typically about power,” said Rep. Ballinger. “The perpetrator is often lashing out in order to prove his or her power or to retain his or her power at the expense of the victim. The victim conversely, often feels powerless, unsure of what, if anything, she or he can do. Laura's Card addresses that. It is an effort to inform victims of their rights and provide them with resources that can help get them out of the destructive cycle of violence. I greatly appreciate Rep. Douglas, the Attorney General's office, the victims' advocates, law enforcement and the Domestic Violence Coalition who all worked tirelessly to bring this bill to life and to get it implemented here in Arkansas.”
“Laura’s Card is the best resource that Arkansas has offered victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse to assure victims are aware of the options and legal remedies when attempting to escape an abusive situation,” said Lee Nailling, chairperson, Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence Board of Directors. “Thanks to Attorney General Rutledge and her office for their involvement and for printing and distribution of the cards.”
“Domestic violence shelters around the State are committed to working in collaboration with law enforcement to provide consistent information for victims of crime,” said McGraw. “Laura's Card provides the ability to fulfill this purpose, and we are grateful.”
Laura’s Card now includes 24-hour crisis lines, a place for law enforcement and local shelter or service provider to include contact information, a list of victim’s rights, information about the Crime Victims Reparations Board and a website that has been created with links to numerous resources available across the State. The website, LaurasCard.ar.gov, is a clearinghouse of resources for law enforcement, service providers and victims.
In addition to working with Rep. Douglas, Webb and the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Rutledge also received input to help craft Laura’s Card from the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police; Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault; Arkansas Commission on Child Abuse, Rape and Domestic Violence; Arkansas Crime Information Center; Arkansas Crime Victims Reparations Board; Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association; Arkansas State Police; Criminal Justice Institute and the Office of the Prosecutor Coordinator.
(Source: Arkansas Attorney General)