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  • Writer's pictureLaurie M. Wasserman

Domestic Abuse & The Holidays

The holidays are traditionally a time for gathering and celebrating with loved ones. For domestic violence survivors, the holidays can mean the potential for more abuse than usual. People are often more stressed during the holiday season, trying to juggle holiday schedules and managing finances. People also typically consume more alcohol and spend more time at home. This combination has historically led to an increase in abuse from Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day. And with the COVID-19 pandemic, survivors may be stuck at home alone with their abuser, further increasing the risks.

At Wasserman Family Law, we help domestic violence survivors take legal actions to protect themselves and their family members from further abuse. If you need legal assistance to obtain a Protective or Peace Order, or to initiate a custody or divorce case against your abuser, please email Laurie Wasserman at or call our main number 410-842-1070.

If you need immediate assistance with a domestic abuse situation, please call the local authorities, or National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522.

If you are living in the state of Maryland and require safe housing, please contact the House of Ruth for assistance at 800.799.SAFE, or the Family Crisis Center of Baltimore County at (410) 285-7496

Protective Orders

Protective Orders tell an abuser what they can or cannot do for specified things. If the abuser fails to follow the Protective Order, law enforcement has the right to immediately arrest them and take legal actions.

Examples of Relief in Protective Orders include:

  • No Contact: the abuser is not allowed to contact the victim at all (including in-person, phone calls, texting, emails, and letters)

  • Stay Away: the abuser is not allowed to come within a specified distance of the victim

  • Move Out: the abuser must move out of the home

  • No Firearms: the abuser must surrender all firearms to law enforcement for the duration of the order

  • Counseling: the abuser must go to counseling for the duration of the order

Abuse is defined as several actions, including:

  • An act that causes serious bodily harm (e.g. hitting, choking, shooting, shoving, or biting)

  • An act that places someone in fear of imminent serious bodily harm (including threats)

  • Assault, rape, or sexual assault

  • Mental injury to a child or minor

  • Stalking

To be eligible for a Protective Order, the person who files must fall into one of these categories:

  • Spouse of the abuser (current or former)

  • Shares a child with the abuser (whether or not you were ever married)

  • Lives with the abuser and has a sexual relationship or has lived together for at least 90 days

  • Related to the abuser (including through marriage or adoption)

  • Has had a sexual relationship with the abuser (within the last year)

Peace Orders

If the survivor is not eligible for a Protective Order, they should consider filing a Peace Order. Peace Orders require a specific person to stay away and refrain from any contact with the survivor for a specified period of time. The survivor may be eligible for a Peace Order if they are a victim of an act that causes serious bodily harm or places them in fear of serious bodily harm, assault, false imprisonment, harassment, stalking, trespassing, malicious destruction of property, misuse of telephone or electronic communication, revenge porn or criminal visual surveillance. Peace Orders must be filed within 30 days of the act occurring.

Supporting Survivors

If you have a loved one that is a domestic violence survivor or you believe to be in a dangerous situation, you may be wondering what you can do to help. Here is a list of things you can do:

1. Educate yourself on domestic violence and the cycle of abuse. This is complicated and has several nuances to it.

2. Do not attempt to intervene without the help of a professional. In most situations, a poorly planned intervention can make the abuse worse, if not deadly.

3. Be supportive of the survivor. Depending on your relationship and the situation, you may be comfortable having an honest conversation with them. Perhaps you remind them of the power they hold and let them know you have a safe place if they need refuge.

4. Remember that you cannot force anyone to leave a relationship. They need to decide that on their own. More often than not, domestic violence survivors will forgive and return to their abuser multiple times because of the cycle of abuse.

An experienced family law attorney will guide you through the Peace and Protective Order process and ensure your safety. If you have questions, please contact Wasserman Family Law at 410-842-1070. You are not alone and we are here to help.


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