You Are Not Alone
Every year people like you are victims of family violence. In fact, over 5,200 cases of family violence per year are reported to the Baltimore County Police Department. It is estimated that these reported cases are only 10 percent of the actual total. Incidents range from verbal threats to critical injuries requiring lengthy hospitalizations. In Baltimore County, approximately 30 percent of the annual homicides are the result of domestic violence.
In a family situation, abuse not only directly affects you and your partner, it indirectly affects your children who may witness the violence. Remember, physical abuse continues when it is allowed to continue. If this is a problem for you, we want you to know you are not alone. We are here to help. This information has been prepared by the Baltimore County Domestic Violence Coordinating Committee. It answers some very important questions asked by the victims of abuse. Find more information on spousal abuse resources and referrals.
Victims of Family Violence
Family violence is considered any violence which occurs in the family. Spouse abuse is a form of family violence which occurs between people who are married or living together or having a relationship. Family violence is a crime. No one has the right to hit, kick, push, throw things at you, or threaten to harm you. Not even your spouse.
Getting to a Safe Place
If you are a victim of family violence, the first thing to consider is your safety and getting to a safe place.
- Once you are safe, call the police immediately.
- The police will respond to your call and take the necessary actions to ensure your safety.
- The police will provide you with information concerning what you can do to further your right to safety from violence.
- The police will fill out a report. Be sure you obtain a copy of this report. It contains important information and may be needed later.
- The police will assist victims of family violence in pursuing:
- Legal options
- Safe shelter
- Counseling services
Violence among family members does not have to continue. But it will continue unless someone in the family takes action to stop it. The Baltimore County Domestic Violence Coordinating Committee urges you to review the options outlined and act today.
Legal Options for Victims
Your legal options fall under two categories, civil or criminal remedy. To ensure your safety, we recommend that both options be pursued.
A Temporary Protection Order can be obtained from a judge. It is available to you if you: are married to the abuser, related by blood, or if you live with the abuser and have a child in common. A Temporary Protection Order can provide you with a:
- Court order for the abuser to cease the abuse
- Court order for the abuser to be removed from the home for a specified number of days
- Court hearing on the case by the end of this period
- Court order providing custody of your minor children
- Recommendation by the judge for counseling or other appropriate services
In order to obtain a Temporary Protection Order you must go to a District or Circuit Court during normal business hours. On evenings and weekends orders can only be obtained at the District Court. The locations of the District and Circuit Courts are listed on the back of the police report. Once the Temporary Protection Order has been issued, the police will make every effort to serve the Order on the respondent.
You may pursue criminal charges whether or not you are married to the abuser. In order to do so, you must make a police report with the Police Department and then go to a Court Commissioner. The Court Commissioners are located in the District Courts listed on the back of the police report.
The Court Commissioner will act upon your request for the filing of criminal charges by issuing either a criminal summons or warrant. If a criminal summons is issued, the abuser will be required to appear in court on a specified date to answer the charges. There is no arrest. If a criminal warrant is issued, the abuser will be taken into custody by the police and a trial date will be set. The abuser may or may not remain in custody depending on the outcome of the bail hearing.
Again, we urge that both the civil and criminal remedies be pursued to enhance your safety.
Resources for Victims
Counseling services are designed to assist you in dealing with the effects of violence you have experienced by exploring your options and finding solutions for the future. Counseling is offered in a variety of forms:
- Family support groups for victims
- Treatment groups for batterers
For immediate counseling services call the Baltimore County Family Violence Hotline at 410-828-6390. Trained counselors are available to answer your questions and to assist you in dealing with your current situation, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Safe shelter is a secure, anonymous and temporary accommodation for you and your minor children. Safe shelter provides you with the opportunity to:
- Remove yourself and your minor children from the immediate threat of violence.
- Explore remedies for the family violence you have experienced.
- Put into effect the remedies you have decided upon.
Centers that offer counseling services and safe shelter are listed below. These agencies all offer support groups, and counseling for victims, children and batterers. There is a sliding scale fee for shelter services, which is based on ability to pay.
Family Crisis Center
Phone: 410-285-7496 or 410-285-4357
Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland
Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Sexual Assault or Domestic Violence Center
The following centers offer services for children that have been physically or sexually abused, or exposed to domestic violence.
Department of Social Services and Child Protective Services
Baltimore City Child Abuse Center
Child Sexual Abuse or Assault
Care Clinic at University of Maryland
Baltimore County Domestic Violence Hotline
24-hour, 7 day-a-week availability
Family Tree and Parents Anonymous
Family Violence Division
Child Abuse and Sex Offense Unit
Learn more about Baltimore County Protective Services.