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2 bills aim to protect Maryland victims of domestic violence

Those Maryland residents who have ever been victims of domestic violence know just how challenging and pervasive of a problem it can be. There are thousands of domestic violence reports each year in Baltimore alone. Those who are going through divorce after having suffered from an abusive spouse know just how important it can be to make resources readily available for such victims. Maryland officials are now considering two separate bills intended to help make those who have gone through domestic violence safer.

The first bill would extend protection for those who suffer domestic violence from just those women who are married to or share children with their abusers. This proposed legislation would allow judges the freedom to issue protective orders in cases that warrant them but fall outside the existing requirement that a marriage or shared children be involved. It also severely curtails an abuser's attempt to contact a victim directly or by approaching the places where that person works, goes to school, or lives.

The second bill proposes slamming convicted abusers with harsher jail sentences in the event that a minor has been in the vicinity of any domestic violence acts. There are statistics that show just how damaging it can be for children to witness such episodes of violence in the home. This bill would not only protect children from the immediate damage that can be done, but also the future cycle of violence that is often perpetuated when children are exposed to domestic violence.

Those in Maryland who have already dealt with domestic violence may wish to follow these bills in case they are passed into law. Regardless of whether they pass, however, abuse victims do have options to protect themselves. One possibility is by filing for a protection order against their abuser. This step can help arm police with the proverbial ammunition they need to incarcerate an abuser if they violate the protective order in any way.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Md. General Assembly considers two domestic violence measures," March 28, 2013

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