Mur­phy aims to lock out do­mes­tic vi­o­lence abusers

Maryland Independent - - News - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com TWIT­TER: @TIFFINDYNEWS

Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence has been a long­stand­ing is­sue in the re­gion but long­time do­mes­tic vi­o­lence aware­ness ad­vo­cate Charles County Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Peter F. Mur­phy (D) is launch­ing a new pro­gram that will lock out abusers and work in fa­vor of the vic­tims.

“This pi­lot project, in fact, could save lives and if it only saves one life then it’s done what it needs to do,” said Rose­mary Raiman, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence co­or­di­na­tor with the Charles County State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice. “When some­one is leav­ing a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence sit­u­a­tion it’s the most dan­ger­ous time. If by hav­ing a new lock on that door, it gives them that time to call 911 or make their chil­dren safe, then it’s worth every cent be­ing put into this pro­gram.”

“Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence vic­tims may be able to get a pro­tec­tive or­der but I thought about do­ing more to in­crease their level of safety,” Mur­phy said. “I thought we could get the vic­tims free lock ser­vices, through the Pro­tec­tion Plus Pro­gram, so they can just call and get the locks changed for free. We also give them other sug­ges­tions in the brochures, but we want to give them as much pro­tec­tion as we pos­si­bly can.”

In a re­cent re­port re­leased by the Mary­land Net­work Against Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence, from July 2014 through June 2015, 34 vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence lost their lives in Mary­land.

Mur­phy said com­mis­sion­ers on the board of county com­mis­sion­ers can use money al­lot­ted for a spe­cial project in their dis­trict and he felt strongly about us­ing his project funds for the Pro­tec­tion Plus Pro­gram.

“This pro­gram is im­por­tant be­cause we don’t have enough re­sources for vic­tims in cases of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence,” said Charles County State’s At­tor­ney An­thony Covington (D). “Vic­tims who are fear­ful be­cause their abuser has the key to their house now have the re­sources to change the locks which we had done through our of­fice be­fore, but we didn’t have the money. Com­mis­sioner Mur­phy be­ing able to find the funds to do that is a great thing. Peo­ple will be able to sleep more safely and soundly at night. It gives Charles County more re­sources to help pro­tect peo­ple be­cause it is re­ally needed in do­mes­tic vi­o­lence cases. I hope it be­comes a per­ma­nent re­source that we can con­tinue to ac­cess for vic­tims in Charles County.”

Raiman and her as­so­ci­ates will be re­view­ing each of the pro­gram’s ap­pli­cants af­ter they have com­pleted their tem­po­rary pro­tec­tive or­der, which only lasts a week.

“Af­ter the tem­po­rary pro­tec­tive or­der hear­ing, that’s when the locks will be changed to make sure they are safe,” Raiman said. “The vic­tims will be given a brochure and the tear off will have a way for us to iden­tify the vic­tim but it will not have their name or their lo­ca­tion on it. They will con­tact the lock­smith, have the lock changed and the lock­smith will con­tact us to let us know it has been changed.”

Alisa Gorham, a Wal­dorf res­i­dent, who was pre­vi­ously in a do­mes­tic abuse sit­u­a­tion spoke at the Charles County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers meet­ing on June 14 about how the pro­gram could have helped her years ago.

“I was a vic­tim of do­mes­tic abuse and I was also given a pro­tec­tive or­der where my hus­band was re­moved from the home,” Gorham said. “I had a sit­u­a­tion where he was cut­ting off the util­i­ties in my house so I had no phone, I couldn’t call any­one, not even 911, and he would send peo­ple to the house, fam­ily mem­bers, friends, who had keys.”

Gorham said she re­mem­bers not be­ing able to sleep com­fort­ably at night due to built up anx­i­ety from feel­ing threat­ened by her hus­band. She is glad that the Pro­tec­tion Plus Pro­gram has been ap­proved and said that she would have also used the avail­able fund­ing to lock out her abuser years ago.

“This pro­gram would have helped me feel a lot safer had I been able to af­ford to have my locks changed, which I couldn’t do be­cause my work was also im­pacted by my do­mes­tic abuse sit­u­a­tion,” Gorham said. “I lost a lot of sleep over this. I felt like a pris­oner in my home and I didn’t want to leave my house and have some­one ran­domly show up. The feel­ing that my hus­band could show up any­time made me afraid to stay in the house and/or leav­ing the house. This pro­gram would have re­ally helped me feel a lot more com­fort­able.”

Gorham said she was will­ing to speak out about her ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause she be­lieves that the Pro­tec­tion Plus Pro­gram will help so many vic­tims who need re­lief from safety and anx­i­ety.

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