RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Many expected bipartisan House Bill 2042 to easily be signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam, but he says he’s done with minimum sentencing bills.
The bill would have set a minimum sentence of 60 days for repeat domestic violence offenders.
“I am a survivor of domestic violence,” Sonja Holt said. “My abuser didn’t get 60 days. He didn’t get anything near that."
Holt runs SCARS, which is an organization designed to help women, and she spends her days working with domestic violence survivors.
“We have been waiting for this moment for so long and for bills regarding domestic violence to hit the GA,” Holt said.
In a Washington Post article, Northam wrote he will no longer sign mandatory sentencing bills into law.
“I believe the governor has made a miscalculated attempt at political rehabilitation,” candidate for Virginia House of Delegates Garrison Coward said. “You are balancing this on the backs of survivors - survivors of domestic abuse."
Some critics believe Northam is using this to make up for his blackface controversy.
“We can hope that was not the intention and that he really does understand,” Holt said.
Hope is something Holt knows well.
“I was with my abuser for 11 years ,” Holt described.
Physical, mental, and sexual abuse are just some of the pain she’s endured.
Holt said she understands Northam’s decision.
“It takes the power away from the judges to make those decisions and even give harsher sentences if need be,” Holt said.
Her story is just one of the thousands of stories from women around the commonwealth, and even after she left her abuser, the abuse continued to haunt her.
“My abuser went and he killed his child and her mother and then she caused an accident that lead to two other innocent lives on 295,” Holt said.
Although vetoed, Holt said these conversations are crucial.
“I think if we continue to have these conversations, then it gives other survivors permission to say I see myself there or yes it’s been me,” Holt said.
Holt said there is help for those struggling with domestic abuse.
If you need help with domestic abuse, you can call the Greater Richmond Regional Hotline at (804) 612-6126.
The number for SCARS is (804) 223-0278.
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