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Evan Rachel Wood's domestic violence bill has been signed into law

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Emily Reynolds
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Evan Rachel Wood’s ‘Phoenix Bill’ has finally been signed into law. 

In 2018, actress Evan Rachel Wood stood in front of Congress to fight for the implementation of the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights Act across the country. In a harrowing and powerful speech, she described the terror of going through a violently abusive relationship.

“In this moment, being tied up and being beaten and told unspeakable things, I truly felt like I could die,” she said. “Not just because my abuser said to me, ‘I could kill you right now,’ but because in that moment I felt like I left my body and I was too afraid to run. He would find me.” 

And now a law she designed to help other victims press charges has been passed by California Governor Gavin Newsom. It extends the statute of limitations on domestic violence cases from three to five years, and is dubbed the “Phoenix Act” from Wood’s belief that “bad things can happen to you, but you can rise out of the ashes”.  Police officers will also be given extra training on domestic violence so that they can better help victims. 

Wood had kept her trauma private for many years. But when she discovered the person who had hurt her had also victimised other women, she felt she needed to speak out. “That changed everything for me,” she told People

But when she asked her lawyer what she could do about it, she was told that the statute of limitations had passed. 

“I said, ‘That doesn’t sound right. Something’s wrong, what are my options?’ They said, ‘Well, you can try to change the law.’”

Wood teamed up with other survivors of domestic violence, as well as lawmakers including Senator Susan Rubio to get the bill signed. 

Wood said in the same interview that her goal was to “make sure that what happened to me couldn’t happen to anybody else”.

“And to start a dialogue that we so desperately need, because it’s a global epidemic, and it affects men and women and children,” she said. 

“Bad things can happen to you, but you can rise out of the ashes. That is exactly why I named it the Phoenix Act. I do believe that you can come back from tragedy, sometimes even stronger than you were before.”

Image: Rex

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Emily Reynolds

Emily Reynolds is a journalist and author based in London. Her first book, A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind, came out in February 2017 with Hodder & Stoughton. She is currently working on her second.  

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