If a victim of domestic violence fails to show up at court in Louisiana during the filing of a restraining order for any reason, the judge could deem it frivolous and charge the victim court cost. In a state that has the second-highest rate of women murdered by men in the nation, Executive Director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Mariah Winseki says this practice needs to stop.

“We can’t look at that problem and look at practices like these and think that those are entirely unrelated. So, if we want to reduce our domestic violence homicide rate then we need to be moving towards practices that prioritizes victim safety,” says Wineski.

She also says the potential burden of court costs could have a chilling effect across the state for victims of domestic abuse and those who so desperately need to file protective orders. “They may hear well my friend or acquaintance was tasked with these costs and I don’t have that kind of money and I don’t want to end up being tasked with cost, therefore, I’m not going to seek this order of protection in the first place,” says Wineski.

There are many reasons why a victim might not be able to attend such a hearing, unable to get time off work, a sick child or intimidation from their assailant. “What we don’t want is for victims of domestic violence in any way to be denied access to the very type of assistance and legal remedy that was designed to protect them,” says Wineski.

If you are a victim of Domestic Abuse you can call the Louisiana Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-888-411-1333