In 2018, actress Evan Rachel Wood stood in front of Congress to fight for the implementation of the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights Act across the country.
Wood gave – a now-famous – speech, in which she described the terror of going through a violently abusive relationship.
“In this moment, being tied up and being beaten and told unspeakable things, I truly felt like I could die,” she said.
“Not just because my abuser said to me, ‘I could kill you right now,’ but because in that moment I felt like I left my body and I was too afraid to run. He would find me.”
And now a law she designed to help other victims press charges has been passed by California Governor Gavin Newsom.
It extends the statute of limitations on domestic violence cases from three to five years, and is dubbed the “Phoenix Act” from Wood’s belief that “bad things can happen to you, but you can rise out of the ashes”.
Police officers will also be given extra training on domestic violence so that they can better help victims.
In order to implement the new law, Wood teamed up with other survivors of domestic violence, as well as lawmakers including Senator Susan Rubio to get the bill signed.
Wood said in the same interview that her goal was to “make sure that what happened to me couldn’t happen to anybody else”.
“And to start a dialogue that we so desperately need, because it’s a global epidemic, and it affects men and women and children,” she said.
Domestic abuse laws internationally have been updated thanks to the #MeToo movements and recurring Women's Marches.
Back in May, The Domestic Violence (No Contact Order) Bill 2019 was moved by Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger to amend 2018’s Domestic Violence Act to further assist victims of harassment and abuse.
The new legislation now allows people on the receiving end of stalking, harassment or abuse, including through social media, to seek a no-contact order from the courts.
Under domestic violence legislation, the main kinds of protection available are safety orders and barring orders.
More information on safety and barring orders can be found here.