Murphy aims to lock out domestic violence abusers
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.