AUGUSTA — Maine has changed its protection-from-abuse laws in an attempt to make them more accessible and understandable for survivors of domestic violence.

Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, has signed a bill passed by the Maine Legislature that sought to clarify the laws.

The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Donna Bailey of Saco, said the changes make the laws clearer, easier to read and more understandable, particularly for survivors who can’t afford legal representation.

The law changes will take effect in about three months. Bailey said the changes were important because laws that “support and protect survivors of domestic violence only work if people know what tools are available and how to access them.”

The Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault said about 14,000 Maine residents experience sexual violence every year. Supporters of the law change said survivors can often benefit from the laws that provide civil protection only if they can understand them without a lawyer.

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