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New Ga. law expands protection for victims in an abusive relationship

Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta.
Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta.(WTOC | WTOC)
Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 4:22 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - In Georgia, a new law recently went into effect that expands the list of who can apply for a protective order if they’re in an abusive relationship.

House Bill 231, signed by Governor Brian Kemp back in May, now provides protections for those in dating relationships, who were in dating relationships and those in a relationship where there’s a pregnancy.

Safe Shelter Center for Domestic Violence Services has an outreach branch that helps people in abusive relationships apply for temporary protective orders (TPO’s) through the courts.

“It’s a very strong order. The police, city and county, take it very seriously. But, it was restricted,” said Executive Director of Safe Shelter Cheryl Branch.

Even with the previous limitations of the TPO’s, Branch says their outreach office was busy helping people apply in the Savannah area.

“Last year they did over 350 protective orders. So we see a lot of people that really do need them.”

And Branch says with the new law, she believes that number will climb.

“Probably, I don’t see how it wouldn’t.”

Branch calls the new law a game-changer for those in relationships outside of marriage or formerly married.

“That leaves out a lot of people. People in dating violence, dating situations where there’s been violence. Former boyfriend and girlfriends...”

To those in a violent and abusive relationship, Branch asks that they consider calling Safe Shelter’s outreach team to talk about options.

“It’s a Superior Court order. If it’s violated, the perpetrator can be arrested for stalking, which is a felony. So it’s a big deal, and it can protect you and your children.”

For more information about how you can reach out for help, head to their website, or call 912-651-0004.

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