LOUISIANA - State representative Aimee Freeman recently introduced House Bill 375 which would allow all sexual assault victims to terminate housing leases early.
Currently, only survivors of domestic abuse can terminate leasing contracts. If a victim was not in a relationship with the abuser, a landlord can refuse to terminate their lease and the victim is obligated to fulfil the remainder of their contract.
Chasity Perrodin with Hearts of Hope, a non-profit that assists survivors of sexual violence, says this new bill would give all sexual assault survivors a chance at a fresh start.
"Giving them an opportunity to almost create a new future and even be in a different environment that’s not associated with that experience," Perrodin said.
She says for sexual assault survivors, being able to move locations following an attack provides more than safety.
"Survivors they suffer from emotional trauma, and I think allowing them this opportunity to terminate their leases early would not only provide safety but just help them with peace of mind and giving them that additional push to start seeking recovery," she said.
Once a survivor is out of that physical location, Perrodin says that's when they can now begin to recover mentally and emotionally. "The physical component is going to lead to opening that road for that mental space. So, I think before you can even start to address where you are at mentally, you need to remove yourself from the physical aspect."
Recovering from sexual abuse is something that takes multiple steps and Perrodin says this proposed bill is a step in the right direction.
"Healing and recovering from something that extensive, it’s going to take multiple steps and I think that just one of the important components that’s going to support survivors in eventually being able to cope with their experience," said Perrodin.
House Bill 375 was recently passed in the House last week with no opposition and will now make its way to the senate.