Domestic violence victims, reform advocates testify before state lawmakers in support of Jennifers' Law
A big Hollywood name was among the dozens of domestic violence victims and reform advocates who testified before state lawmakers Wednesday to show support for a bill named in part after missing New Canaan mother Jennifer Dulos.
The proposed bill, called Jennifers' Law, aims to redefine domestic violence to include nonphysical forms of abuse known as coercive control.
Behaviors include gaslighting, isolation, threats to take the children away, blackmail and financial abuse.
State Sen. Alex Kasser introduced the bill. She represents New Canaan and initially proposed the bill after Jennifer Dulos was killed.
Police arrested her husband, Fotis Dulos. The two had been in a contentious custody case for two years with no end in sight.
This month, Kasser changed the apostrophe in the bill's title to name it after Jennifer Dulos and Jennifer Magnano - a Connecticut mother killed by her ex-husband in 2007.
"Jennifer and her children understood the danger they were in, but that they were unable to convince anyone of that," says Elle Kamihira, the director of a film about Magnano.
It was a theme echoed by others at the hearing, including actress Evan Rachel Wood - who testified about her own experience.
"Too often I've heard people's stories describing coercive control as a pre-cursor to physical violence or homicide, but nothing could be done until irreparable harm had occurred or the victim was dead," says Wood.
Wood previously accused her ex-boyfriend, singer Marilyn Manson, of abuse in an Instagram post.
Other women testified about their own experiences.
"I have tried 15 times for a restraining order after being threatened with firearms," said Eli Holmes during the hearing.
"I had 3,000 harassing, threatening emails," said Christine Cocchiola.
"His abuse follows a pattern of coercive control tactics," said Kailani Carlson.
Jennifers' Law also requires courts to prioritize the safety of children in all cases involving allegations of domestic violence.
"For me, it is hope that I stand and more importantly that my child stands a chance at freedom and safety with SB1060 passed. This would be the first time I've held to that kind of hope in 5 years," says Holmes.
The bill will face a judiciary committee vote in the next two weeks. If passed, it moves to the full General Assembly.