DES MOINES, Iowa -- It was an important day for Iowa’s survivors of sexual assault. Gov. Branstad signed the Sexual Assault Protective Order bill into law this afternoon.
“It’s been a long time coming. It really has been a long time coming,” said Rebecca Stout with the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Stout is on the legal team for Iowa CASA and she’s dedicated most of her adult life to help survivors of sexual assault.
“It’s going to feel fantastic,” said Stout as she waited for the Governor to sign the bill.
Stout has worked on this bill for a decade. As she looks back she still can’t understand why a bill like this took so long.
“I don’t have an answer to that. I think it’s perplexing to us as well. It’s just been a long road time coming but we are thrilled that it’s here now,” said Stout.
Over a dozen advocates and survivors made it to the signing Wednesday. The law gives survivors further protection from the anyone who has assaulted them. Prior to the new law you could only get a civil protection order in domestic situations, meaning a victim was in a relationship with their attacker.
Stout tells us that the majority of the sexual abuse comes from someone they know like a coworker or classmate. So giving them protection from any perpetrator was a no-brainer.
“For the vast majority of victims. This is going to be huge tool for them to help them feel safe,” said Kerri True-Funk.
True-Funk is the associate director at Iowa CASA and she deals with survivors every day. She says that recovery for survivor can take years but having a protection order is often the first step in healing. “So, having something in place that can help create a time where they shouldn’t have to worry about having contact with the person that harmed them. It can help them figure out how to move forward and get back to those routines with work, school and family,” said True-Funk.
Iowa is now the 35th state to enact a law similar to this one.