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Flores Brings Personal History To Domestic Violence Legislation

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Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, Democrat, District 28

BY AMY KINGSLEY -- Assemblywoman Lucy Flores has come a long way from the mean streets of northeast Las Vegas. But that doesn’t mean she has forgotten her past. In her second term, the Assemblywoman sponsored legislation to help victims of domestic violence by allowing them to break leases without consequences.

It was an example of unconventional thinking. Members of the legislature usually address domestic violence by increasing tools and penalties for law enforcement. But Flores’ own experiences as a victim of domestic violence led her to approach the issue from a different, more practical angle.

“Much of the opposition surrounded this idea that law enforcement is the answer,” Flores said. “And sometimes law enforcement is not the answer for many, many reasons. Sometimes it affects your own safety. You know, sometimes the person is just trying to figure out left from right, top to bottom and figure out what to do with their life. And the first idea is not to call law enforcement and get them involved.”

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Flores also testified in support of a bill to change Nevada’s sexual education curriculum. During that testimony, she revealed that she had an abortion at age 16, and urged lawmakers to support the bill to prevent other teenagers from going through the same experience. She didn’t plan on telling her story.

“Well, I think one of the first things I was thinking was, ‘I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud,’” Flores said.

Critics denounced her for speaking openly about her decision.

“It speaks to a larger issue about abortion and this idea that you should be ashamed that you made your choice,” Flores said. “That’s what sparked the most outrage, that I said I was not ashamed.”

The bill was dropped by Democratic leaders in the state Senate.

“Was I angry at first? Sure. I’m still disappointed,” Flores said.

Flores has been open about her past, which included gang membership and brushes with the law. She turned her life around and attended the University of Southern California and the law school at UNLV.

“As a policy maker, as someone who got into politics and represents the community that I grew up in, it’s important for me to be able to convey to the rest of the world, to convey to my colleagues that this is a reality that we’re dealing with, and that they are very troubling realities and they have some very grave social consequences,” Flores said.

Flores said she also wants to remind colleagues not to give up on kids who have made bad decisions.

“Just because our young people get into trouble or experience different challenges, there is still hope for them.”

 

Friday, June 14, 2013
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