LITTLE ROCK — Four new laws that go into effect Wednesday will take on the problem of domestic violence through education and prevention efforts, increased services for victims and new tools for law enforcement officers and prosecutors.

LITTLE ROCK — Four new laws that go into effect Wednesday will take on the problem of domestic violence through education and prevention efforts, increased services for victims and new tools for law enforcement officers and prosecutors.


State Reps. Charlotte Douglas, R-Alma, and Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, held a news conference Monday at the state Capitol to discuss the legislation on domestic violence they sponsored during this year’s regular legislative session. Joining them was Laura Webb of Cabot, who is mentioned by name in two of the measures.


Douglas and Ballinger said Act 877, titled "Laura’s Law," and Act 873, which creates "Laura’s Card," are named for three women: Webb, who survived being hit by a truck driven by her then-husband in 2012; Laura Aceves, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in Carroll County in 2010; and Aceves’ mother, Laura Ponce.


Douglas said the women represent "the three faces of domestic violence": survivors, victims, and victims’ families.


Laura’s Law will require that when a law enforcement agency responds to a report of domestic abuse, the first officer to interview the victim must ask a series of questions contained on a form, known as a "lethality assessment." Certain answers would signify that the victim’s life may be in danger and would trigger a referral to a shelter or an intervention program on domestic violence.


Laura’s Card will be a card containing information about victims’ rights and various types of assistance available to victims. A law enforcement officer will be required to provide a card — along with the officer’s name, badge number and contact information — when making contact with a victim or a victim’s family.


Also taking effect Wednesday is Act 952, which will require health-care courses taught in Arkansas public schools in grades seven-12 to include a unit each year on dating violence awareness. Students must be provided with information on warning signs of abusive behavior and ways to stop or prevent it.


Act 876 will direct a law enforcement agency investigating an incident of domestic violence to do so in a manner that allows the prosecuting attorney to prosecute the offense based on evidence independent of the victim’s testimony.


Ballinger, whose district includes part of Carroll County, said Aceves returned to her boyfriend "out of fear" after repeated incidents of domestic violence. He said the new laws seek to ensure that law enforcement officers intervene when necessary and that prosecution can proceed even when a victim is unable or unwilling to testify.


"If they are being intimidated, if they are under pressure, whether it’s financial or physical or whet ever, then hopefully we can still put that guy away," Ballinger said.


Douglas said, "You can see a common thread through our legislation, and that is that it attempts to find ways to empower victims to make better choices because they’re going to have better information and access to support systems."


Standing behind the speakers at the news conference were 10 life-sized cardboard silhouettes representing Arkansas women killed by domestic violence in 2014. Webb, who now has a crushed voice box and titanium plates for hips, said she would have died too if not for bystanders who quickly came to her aid and called 911 after her husband ran over her on Mount Magazine and fled.


"I was seconds away from being a cardboard cutout for 2012," she said.