How Does Maryland Assist Victims Of Domestic Violence?
In Maryland and elsewhere, a victim of domestic violence is often stuck between a rock and a hard place. These individuals and their children need to escape abuse. But they do not always have the financial means to do so. To help address this unfortunate outcome, Maryland created a program to help victims of domestic violence.
Who Qualifies as a Victim of Domestic Violence in Maryland?
Maryland Code of Family Section 4-513 defines the term “victim of domestic violence.” There are two components to this term under Maryland law.
First, a victim of domestic violence means any individual who:
- Sustained deliberate, severe, and demonstrable physical injury; or
- Is in imminent fear of deliberate, severe, and demonstrable physical injury.
Second, the abuser must be related to the victim as a:
- Current spouse;
- Former spouse;
- Current cohabitant; or
- Former cohabitant.
In this context, it is important to clarify the definition of a cohabitant under Maryland Code of Family Section 4-501. To qualify as a cohabitant, the abuser must have:
- Engaged in a sexual relationship with the victim; and
- Resided with the victim for at least 90 days within one year of filing for protection.
Why Did Maryland Create the Victims of Domestic Violence Program?
Maryland Code of Family Section 4-514 explains the reason for creating the victims of domestic violence program. The Maryland General Assembly created this program because:
- Victims of domestic violence are often forced from their homes to safeguard their life, safety, and welfare;
- Victims of domestic violence and their children are typically dependent financially on the abuser and lack reasonable housing alternatives; and
- Victims of domestic violence and their children have not always benefited from vital services in the past, such as emergency shelter, counseling, or support.
How Does Maryland Help Victims of Domestic Violence?
Maryland Code of Family Section 4-515 outlines the assistance provided under the victims of domestic violence program. This program helps victims of domestic violence and their children by providing:
- Temporary shelter;
- Assistance obtaining shelter;
- Information and referral; and
Section 4-515 requires the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services to establish at least one authorized shelter in every major population center across Maryland. Though temporary housing services are only available to Maryland residents, not out-of-state victims.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you have legal questions about domestic violence, it can be helpful to contact a Bel Air domestic violence attorney. Contact Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered for help.