Domestic Violence is the use of abusive tactics and physical force to obtain and maintain power and control over a partner.
Domestic Violence happens among all sectors of society. It happens to people of all racial, economic and religious groups.
Domestic Violence can include physical assault, sexual assault, emotional abuse, economic abuse and verbal abuse.
Domestic Violence never stops on its own. Once it starts, it gets progressively worse in frequency and severity.
The Victim/Witness Coordinators in my office provide information and referrals for counseling for the victims of domestic violence as well as information about domestic violence and the criminal justice system.
How Can the Legal System Help You Be Safe?
Ex Parte and Protective Orders:
Apply for a temporary order for protection at the District Court Commissioners Office. It is called “ex parte” because only one person – you – need to be present in Court. You will be seen by the Judge the day of your application. If the Judge signs the ex parte order, a hearing will be scheduled within 7 days. At the hearing, both parties will be in Court. It is not necessary, but is recommended, to have an attorney present to represent you.
A Protective Order may last up to 1 year. It will be issued by the Court only for those victims who fit the legal criteria
Who May Apply?
A Person Eligible for Relief: the current or former spouse of the respondent; a cohabitant of the respondent; a person related to the respondent by blood, marriage or adoption; a vulnerable adult; an individual who has a child in common with the respondent; or a parent, stepparent, child or stepchild of the respondent if that person lives with or has lived with the respondent for at least 90 days within 1 year before the filing of the petition.
What Type of Relief is Available?
Temporary Ex Parte Orders: order that the respondent refrain from further abuse or threats; order the respondent to refrain from contacting, attempting to contact or harassing the person eligible for relief; order the respondent to refrain from entering the residence; order that the respondent vacate the home immediately (if the two parties are living together) and award temporary use and possession of the home to the person eligible for relief; order the respondent to remain away from the place of employment or school of the person eligible for relief; award temporary custody of minor children to the person eligible for relief.
Protective Orders: All of the above relief available plus the following: establish temporary visitation for any minor children; award emergency family maintenance; award temporary use and possession of the vehicle to the person eligible for relief; direct respondent and/or the person eligible for relief to participate in the counseling or domestic violence programs.
Violation of an Ex Parte or Protective Order:
A person who fails to comply with the relief granted in an ex-parte or protective order is guilty of a crime. The crime is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.00 and/or imprisonment not to exceed 60 days.
Other Criminal Charges:
There are a number of crimes commonly associated with Domestic Violence such as harassment, telephone misuse, stalking, assault and false imprisionment. Criminal charges may be filed at the District Court Commissioners Office or you can contact the Sheriff’s Office or the Maryland State Police, Barrack’s U, in Prince Frederick.
Could You Be An Abuser? Some Questions To Think About…
- Does your partner have to ask for permission to go somewhere or do something?
- How often do you put your partner down or tell him/her that she/he can’t do anything right?
- Do you threaten or hurt your partner when he/she disagrees with you?
- Do you prevent your partner from seeing his/her friends or family, getting a job or education?
- Do you destroy things your partner cares about, like pets, family photos or clothes?
- Do arguments with your partner often end with someone being physically hurt?
Recognizing the Cycle of Violence
The Tension Building Stage:
The abuser is edgy, everything makes him/her angry, he/she verbally lashes out, and may throw or hit objects, he/she may complain about small insignificant things, causing tension to build in the household. Then it happens…
The abuser explodes with anger. He/she may verbally assault and/or physically assault the victim. Pushing, choking and slapping are common forms of domestic violence. Threatening to injure or kill the victim’s family or friends are also common elements in domestic violence. Immediately after the explosion the abuser is often sorry and minimizes his/her behavior…
The Honeymoon Stage:
The abuser is repentant, may cry, plead for forgiveness, revert to “courting” behavior. He/She may try to justify his/her actions and promise it will never happened again. That is, until the next time.
Stop the Cycle of Violence
Use the Legal System: You can get an ex parte/protection order from the Court or file criminal charges. Hold the abuser accountable for what he/she has done and protect yourself at the same time.
Call the Abused Persons Program: Located in the Health Services Building in Prince Frederick, the Abused Services Program can aid with counseling, assistance with ex parte applications, filing criminal charges and/or accompaniment to court proceedings. Call the 24 hour help line at 410-535-1121 to speak with a trained crisis counselor.
About The Program
The purpose of the program is to provide comprehensive services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, both children and adults, as well as services for abusers.
- Confidentiality is respected
- Crisis intervention
- Information & referral
- Individual and group counseling
- Transportation to and from services
Advocacy & Accompaniment
- Accompaniment services provided by staff or trained volunteers to:
- Emergency Room
- Sheriff / State Police
- Social Services
Education & Prevention
- Crisis intervention training for volunteers
- Individualized programs & seminars
- Training for police, hospital employees, school counselors, etc.
Group & Individual Counseling
- Domestic violence victims & abusers
- Incest survivors
- Rape / Sexual Assault Survivors
- Therapists for sexually abused children and family members
Information & Referral
- Employment training
Establish And Use Your Support System: Talk to family and friends and ask for their support and help. This may be hard to do but, you can’t tackle this problem alone.
Establish A Safety Plan For Yourself And Your Children: Decide on a place you can go if you need to leave quickly, keep some spare money, spare keys and important papers for you and your children in a safe place that you can get to quickly.
Make A Personal Commitment To Stop The Violence In Your Family
- Domestic violence NEVER stops on its own.
- Abuse is NEVER the victim’s fault.
- For your children – find a safer, healthier model for their living.