Stop domestic violence
The Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence held its 29th annual Domestic Violence Memorial Service on Monday night, Feb. 13, in the Joint Hearing Room of the Legislative Services Building in Annapolis. The memorial service remembered the women, men and children who died as a result of domestic violence during the past year, celebrated the survivors, and focused attention on changing laws to reduce domestic violence, improve victim safety, and provide greater abuser accountability.
Also Monday, the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence released 2015-2016 Domestic Violence Fatality Statistics, including victims of intimate partner violence, other individuals who died in domestic violence-related situations, and abusers who committed suicide or were killed.
Fifty-five individuals died in Maryland, including 42 victims, between July 2015 and June 2016 as a result of domestic violence. Fifty-eight percent or 32 of the domestic violence fatalities involved the use of a gun. There were at least 47 children left behind.
Forty-two individuals who died were victims. These victims included 34 victims who were killed by intimate partners: 26 women, one teen girl (age 17) and seven men; two of these homicides occurred in a same-sex relationship. Eight other people died in domestic violence situations, including two children, one who was killed by her father (age 2) and one who was killed by his mom’s boyfriend (age 14).
The annual memorial service serves to heighten awareness of dom estic violence and reminds the community of the terrible toll that domestic violence takes each year on families in Maryland, but it also focuses on positive actions that can prevent future tragedies.
Of the 13 domestic violence abusers who lost their lives, 10 men committed suicide-murder or attempted murder-suicide; two men committed murder-suicide as well as arson; and one man was killed by his victim (the abuser’s ex-boyfriend) in self-defense.
Here on the Mid-Shore, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Talbot and Kent counties were fortunate to register zero domestic violence related deaths from 2011-2016.
On the legislative front, Senate Bill 219, currently in committee, would enable a victim or the victim’s representative to receive prompt notification of the release of the criminal defendant.
SB 219 builds on existing criminal procedures to improve the safety of victims of crime.
Current law allows victims or their representative to request protection from a District Court commissioner or court. SB 219 would allow the victim of crime to complete a confidential supplemental form when an application of charges is filed and to register with the state’s Victim Information and Notification Everyday. The victim then can be notified via e-mail or telephone about the status of the case, including information about the defendant’s release.
This is important because it is not unusual for the defendant in a domestic violence case, who has recently been released from jail, to seek revenge on an intimate partner. With prompt notification, the victim will be able to take appropriate precautions to avoid further injury or, in extreme cases, death.
This notice will not only make the victim safer, but will also serve to reduce the cost to the community in expenses associated with police, health care and lost wages.
While progress is being made, we must continue to work to make domestic violence a thing of the past.