Maryland lawmakers aim to combat domestic violence issues

Did you know that every year, Baltimore City authorities respond to thousands of calls related to domestic violence? Calls for help result in charged abusive partners, protective orders, domestic violence counselors and more.

While these efforts appear to make a difference, the amount of violence has not slowed down. As of late March 2013, there had already been five domestic homicides in Baltimore City. In 2012, there were only six for the entire year.

When a person has been abused, a protective order creates strict limits on an aggressor's ability to communicate with his or her victim. For example, one generally cannot contact a victim, hang around victim's residence or enter the victim's workplace. Yet, in Maryland, only specific victims of domestic abuse can obtain a protective order with these rights. Relatives, spouses, those that share a child with the aggressor, vulnerable individuals and those residing together benefit from the law. Conversely, victims who are not married to or residing with their aggressors are not eligible for a formal order.

The good news is that Maryland is trying harder to protect victims. For example, the General Assembly is considering a bill this year, which would permit judges to issue protective orders to women who are not related to abusive partners via marriage or children. Moreover, another legislative proposal would increase time behind bars for offenders who commit domestic violence in the presence of a minor.

While these two legislative proposals will definitely assist with combating domestic violence in Maryland, they will not solve the overarching problem. Many people ask why those in abusive relationships stick with their partners instead of leaving them behind. Victims often feel hopeless and stuck. Moreover, violence, threats of violence and emotional abuse can create fear of leaving. In addition, victims may mistakenly blame themselves for the issues.

Ultimately, domestic violence is an illegal way of obtaining control over someone, and the issue is serious in Maryland. The problem perpetually claims the lives of more innocent women each year. Thankfully, legislators are working to provide safeguards for all types of victims. If you believe that you are suffering from domestic abuse, you should retain an attorney. There are protective measures within the legal system, which can be reserved for anyone - even without the proposed legislative changes.

To learn more, speak to a qualified family law lawyer in your area. An attorney can help you get through your rocky situation.