One of the worst feelings in the world is seeing someone in need and not being able to help them.

Thanks to a new ruling from the North Carolina Court of Appeals, that will now happen less at My Sister’s House. Until the ruling, same-sex couples who are dating or who used to date did not have access to emergency domestic violence protection orders. North Carolina was the only state in the country to do this.

While I am grateful for the court’s decision and the impact it will have on victims of domestic violence, I am reminded of the importance of language. The previous language on the protective order stated “persons of the opposite sex who are in or have been in a dating relationship.”

In just 15 words, individuals across North Carolina have been put in danger and agencies like My Sister’s House could not fully serve the needs of those victims. Safety is the core service of MSH, and not being able to get a protection order, we could not even offer them a sense of security.

It is so difficult for victims of domestic violence to come forward; to then be told we can’t help you because of the wording in a protection order can be discouraging. While this may seem to be a win just for the LGBTQ community, it extends further. Allowing more people access to safety measures makes all our communities safer.

Everyone has the right to feel safe and North Carolina has (finally) taken a major step in the right direction. There has been an appeal made but that will take months to years to be addressed; for now the protection is in place.

Emily Lemus

Executive director, My Sister’s House