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More resources for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault

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HANNIBAL, MO. (WGEM) - Governor Parson signed Missouri House Bill 432 into law on July 16th, providing more protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

When a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault is brought to a hospital in Missouri, there will soon be a trained nurse on staff to help them, which hasn't been the case.

Advocates with AVENUES of Northeast Missouri said one of the main goals of the legislation is to make sure hospitals always have a sexual assault nurse examiner on staff, so victims can be helped right away when they come into the hospital.

"Most of the hospitals, especially in the smaller towns, you have to drive to another community to find a sexual assault nurse, a SANE nurse, so that's the first hurdle. If someone is assaulted in Pike county they would have to come here to Hannibal," said Toni Serio, Sexual Assault Victim Advocate.

The law also allows victims of assault to take up to two weeks off of work following an assault. However, this time-off work will be unpaid.

Tamitha Ague, Avenues CEO said the time allowed off work would be unpaid. She said victims are often in vulnerable financial situations and may not be able to take two weeks off if they don't have income coming in.

"With it being said that it's unpaid, it will make an impact again of whether a person will come forward to make that decision because they may have family, they may have children or daycare that they need to pay for."

Ague said both employers and victims should reach out to local agencies like AVENUES if they want to take the time off of work but need to keep up with bills.

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