Bill eyes social media targeting

A measure to better protect victims of domestic violence from harassment through social media was approved Thursday in the Senate.

Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, whose District 43 covers a western portion of Garvin County, is the principal Senate author of the measure and said House Bill 1007 is needed to bring victim protection laws in line with new technologies and communication platforms.

“Sadly, domestic violence is all too common in our state, and those who prey on others will use whatever means they can to break down their victims – be it physical, emotional or mental,” Garvin said.

“While, for the most part, our laws address the physical and emotional abuse victims face, this update is needed to stop the harassment and mental games being played on social media to further terrorize and hurt victims.”

HB 1007 expands “harassment” as it relates to the Domestic Abuse Reporting Act to include social media postings or other electronic communications that includes abusive and threatening messages, impersonating another person, posting sensitive or embarrassing information without a person’s consent, and the creation of fake accounts to acquire private information with the intent to threaten or cause humiliation to someone.

Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa, is the principal House author of the bill.

“We must do all we can to protect domestic violence victims from any form of harassment, physical or mental,” Bush said.

“This bill ensures this extends even to the internet. I’m glad to partner with Senator Garvin to accomplish this change.”

HB 1007 further provides that there will be a rebuttable presumption that a statement appearing on a social media posting or other electronic communication attributed to someone testifying is the statement of that individual. The presumption may be rebutted by a credible denial under oath.

The measure will now return to the House for consideration of Senate amendments.

•••

A bill clarifying the definition of rape to include acts within or without the bonds of matrimony is on its way to the governor’s desk. House Bill 2666, by Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, passed the Senate unanimously Wednesday.

“Domestic violence is a serious problem in our state and, unfortunately, so is being sexually victimized while married,” Garvin said.

“Just because a couple is married, neither party has the right to force themselves on their spouse. House Bill 2666 clarifies this important distinction in statute to ensure those who victimize their spouse are held accountable.”

The state’s current definition of rape describes the sexual act as taking place with a male or female who is not the spouse of the perpetrator.

According to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 686,000 women in the U.S. are raped annually.

In Oklahoma, 49% of women and 40% of men have experienced intimate partner violence at some time in their lives.

The survey found that nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the U.S. have been raped at some time in their lives. More than half of female victims reported being raped by an intimate partner.

House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, is the bill’s principal House author.

“I was glad to work with the Domestic Violence Coalition and the other members who overwhelmingly supported this bill to better protect the victims of this horrific crime,” Echols said.

HB 2666 was requested by the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (OCADVSA).

“More than half of female victims report being raped by an intimate partner according to the National Intimate Parter and Sexual Violence Survey,” said Mackenzie Masilon, OCADVSA legislative liaison.

“We thank the bill authors for recognizing this and giving all survivors of sexual assault the ability to seek justice through the courts.”

If signed by the governor, HB 2666 would go into effect on Nov. 1, 2021.

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