How domestic violence survivors could be given a moment to ‘exhale’

August 7, 2019

In 2016, when Susan Rubio was on the Baldwin Park City Council, she famously accused her then-husband, Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, of domestic violence. He had been beating her, she told a Los Angeles County court, since late 2013, just months into their marriage, but she had covered it up — telling hospital staff she had hurt herself working out, for instance — because both were elected officials and because she feared he’d retaliate.

Three years later, Rubio and Hernandez are divorced, he no longer holds office and she’s Sen. Susan Rubio, a freshman Democrat with a bill — co-sponsored in the Assembly by no less than her sister — to lengthen the statute of limitations on domestic abuse. Senate Bill 273  would provide officer training for domestic violence cases and give authorities eight years instead of three to prosecute abuses for which new evidence emerges.

Her aim, she says, is “to make sure that women have more time to deal with their personal struggles and really have the courage to come forward and bring their abusers to justice.”

“When my story broke, so many women decided that they wanted to tell their stories to me, hundreds of them,” Rubio said. “One of the things that I found was common in all of the stories that were told to me is that that there is a deep-rooted trauma and paralyzing fear that comes from their experience — and some of them take years to overcome.”

The extended statute of limitations would apply to cases in which the perpetrator confesses or there are videos, photos, or written or electronic communication that emerge and can be used as sufficient evidence.