PORTLAND, Maine — Maine has changed its protection from abuse laws in an attempt to make them more accessible and understandable for survivors of domestic violence.
Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, has signed a bill passed by the Maine Legislature that sought to clarify the laws.
LD 1696, "An act to clarify and recodify Maine's protection from abuse statutes," helps make the statutes clear, easy to read and understand, but also "incorporates relevant case law into the statutory framework without making substantive changes to existing law," a news release issued Thursday from the Maine Senate Democrats states.
Sen. Donna Bailey, D-Saco, sponsored the bill. She said the changes make the laws clearer, particularly for survivors who can't afford legal representation.
The law changes will take effect in about three months.
The changes were important because laws that “support and protect survivors of domestic violence only work if people know what tools are available and how to access them," Bailey said.
The Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault said about 14,000 Maine residents experience sexual violence every year. Supporters of the law change said survivors can often benefit from the laws that provide civil protection only if they can understand them without a lawyer.