Domestic abuse advocate calls for clarity in light of killed MS bill

JACKSON, MS (WMC) - Mississippi lawmakers struck down a bill that would have added the words 'domestic abuse' as grounds for divorce in the state.

The bill died in committee. Lawmakers said adding the words 'domestic abuse' is redundant wording already stated by law. They also said those two words need clarification—something domestic assault advocates agree with.

Under current Mississippi law, there are 12 reasons a couple can file for divorce, from adultery to impotence to cruel and inhumane treatment—those words are the reason the House Judiciary Committee killed Senate bill 2703.

The proposed bill would have added the words 'spousal domestic abuse' to one of the reasons.

Hours after the bill died, committee chair Andy Gipson took to social media to say in part, "abuse is already a ground of divorce, and that includes domestic abuse."

Memphis Area Women's Council executive director Deborah Clubb agrees with the logic.

But Clubb, a domestic violence advocate, said there needs to be more clarity to the domestic abuse definition.

"I think that those words certainly cover the kinds of behavior I've heard about. What would be necessary is for the state to literally write it in to the law. It would need to say such as," Clubb said.

Domestic abuse comes in many forms, and is not limited to the physical abuse that can be seen.

Clubb said millions of victims endure verbal and emotional abuse from their partner.

"There's physicals, emotional, verbal, financial, controlling the money and not letting me to have the money even if I make it myself. Keeping me feeling very caught and trapped," Clubb said.

As for victims who are trapped, Clubb said state lawmakers always need to provide them with every tool to escape the abuse.

The committee chair also said the committee has passed numerous bills through the committee to strengthen penalties against those who commit domestic abuse.

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