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Civil protective orders are crucial for survivors' safety

On Feb. 21, I put on my crown and sash, and walked into the state Capitol building to advocate on behalf of sexual assault survivors as your Miss Polk County 2017. This summer I will compete for the title of Miss Iowa, and hope to shine a spotlight on the issue of sexual violence.

Senate File 401focuses on providing survivors of sexual assault with civil protective orders (commonly referred to as “restraining orders”).

Iowa is one of the few states that does not offer survivors this kind of protection. A civil protective order is crucial for the healing and safety of all crime survivors, including those who experience sexual violence. Domestic-abuse survivors are already afforded civil protective orders as a means of safety. It’s time for survivors of sexual assault to have that same right.

Some legislators in the Iowa House have unfortunately pushed back against this bill. This isn’t the first time we have been at this crossroads. Previously, a similar iteration of this bill has passed the Senate, yet failed in the House.

— Marissa Messinger, West Des Moines, Miss Polk County 2017

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