Domestic violence devastates thousands of families in Maryland

Victims of domestic violence should take several steps to safely escape. This includes documenting evidence of abuse and obtaining a protection order.

Getting a divorce is hard for anyone, but what if the person seeking the divorce fears for his or her safety? Domestic abuse by one intimate partner against another happens in every state in the nation, including Maryland. Spousal abuse has the potential to destroy families and can be passed down from one generation to the other.

Sadly, the statistics show that this problem is far too common. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that every minute of every day, about 20 people throughout the United States are abused by their partners. This equals about 10 million adults every year, both men and women. Children are also frequent victims of domestic abuse, with one out of every 15 children in the country witnessing or experiencing abuse in their homes.

Protecting the most vulnerable victims of domestic violence

In fact, states Safe Horizon, children are particularly vulnerable to familial abuse. When children are exposed to abuse in their homes, they are more likely to do poorly in school and to have more health problems. They may be placed at great risk when abusers take out their anger on them. Many grow up to continue the cycle of violence with their own families.

Thus, protecting children from abuse is vital. This may be done by gaining physical custody of children to keep their abusers from harming them, as well as obtaining a protective order when it is time to leave the relationship.

How can a protective order help?

Protective orders, also commonly known as restraining orders, are temporary court orders that legally protect victims of abuse. According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, protective orders restrict abusers from going near their victims or attempting to contact them. These orders may be made permanent if the victim can prove to the court that there was abuse during the marriage and that he or she might be in continued danger without it.

There are other ways to prepare to escape an abusive marriage. These may include the following:

  • Keeping a record of physical attacks, such as doctors' reports and photos of bruises
  • Reporting attacks to the authorities
  • Gathering emergency cash, clothing and other belongings and keeping them in a safe place without the abuser's knowledge
  • Rehearsing an escape plan with a trusted family member or friend

It is important to keep in mind that abusers will usually try to prevent their victims from leaving. Local domestic violence centers and law enforcement agencies have programs to help victims safely get away from their tormentors and to develop tools to keep themselves out of abusive situations in the future.

If you are attempting to leave an abusive marriage, you may find help by speaking with a law enforcement officer or an abuse counselor in Maryland. A family law attorney with experience in domestic violence and protection orders may also help to protect your rights.

Keywords: domestic violence, abuse, protective order, family law