Charlie Crist Introduces Bill to Help Domestic Violence Survivors

Last week, a congressman from the Sunshine State introduced a proposal that will make it easier for survivors of domestic violence to replace missing documents.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., brought out the “Documents for Continued Safety Act” which has the support of U.S. Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón, R-PR.

“The bipartisan legislation would empower survivors of domestic violence by making it easier for them to replace vital documents lost or missing after fleeing their abuser,” Crist’s office noted. “Under the proposal, the Social Security Administration would not charge administrative fees required to replace birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and Social Security cards – identification documents which are necessary for survivors to establish safe and independent lives after experiencing abuse. In 2018, Pinellas County experienced over 6,000 reported cases of domestic violence.”

Crist weighed in on why he brought out the proposal last week.

“Escaping domestic violence is one of the most difficult things a person can do,” said Crist. “This legislation supports survivors who make the brave choice to restart their lives safely and independently, ensuring one step in that process is a little less burdensome.”

“Countering domestic violence has always been one of my legislative priorities. In Puerto Rico, around 20,000 domestic violence cases are reported annually, which provides a glimpse of vulnerabilities experienced by many of my constituents,” said González-Colón. “This bill is crucial to end the lack of access to survivor’s documentation and providing the necessary resources to start a new life free from abuse. As a co-vice chair of the Congressional Women’s Caucus, I will always support equality and safety for women. This bill is step in the right direction and I will continue to work with my colleagues to enact it into law.”

“Escaping domestic violence is often rushed and desperate. Domestic violence shelters report that survivors frequently do not have their vital documents or access to financial resources – because either the abuser withholds them, or they are forgotten in the process of fleeing,” Crist’s office noted. “Lack of access to these documents can make it nearly impossible for survivors to find jobs, rent a home, or open a bank account, while the process of replacing birth certificates, drivers licenses, and Social Security cards can be cumbersome and costly. The cost of replacing vital documents can delay a survivor’s ability to start fresh, and drain shelters of their limited resources.

“Under the ‘Documents for Continued Safety Act,’ the Social Security Administration (SSA) would waive the fees associated with replacing Social Security Cards for domestic violence survivors and cover state fees for driver’s licenses and birth certificates. Thus providing survivors with life-saving assistance as they take steps to build a safe and independent life,” Crist’s office added.

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee last week. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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