Domestic Violence Survivors: You Are Not Alone
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This month, advocates come together across the United States to share information and resources regarding domestic violence awareness. The team at Wasserman Family Law wants all domestic violence survivors to know that they are not alone. We, among others across the nation, are advocating for your safety and the end of relationship abuse. There are safe places and resources available to you.
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.
And if you need legal assistance to obtain a Peace or Protective Order, or to initiate a custody or divorce case against your abuser, please email Laurie Wasserman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our main number 410-842-1070. We are aware of the surge in domestic violence cases throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and take these matters very seriously. Our team offers Peace and Protective Orders to anyone who feels theirs or their loved ones’ safety is at risk.
What are Peace and Protective Orders?
A Protective Order is designed to protect a person from abuse. The court will issue the Protective Order to 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.
Abuse is defined by a number of actions, including any act that causes serious bodily harm (e.g. hitting, choking, shooting, shoving, or biting) or places someone in fear of imminent serious bodily harm (including threats). Abuse also includes assault, rape, sexual assault, stalking, and mental injury to a child or minor.
Protective Orders come in various forms for different purposes. One of the most common forms is a No Contact Protective Order. No Contact means the abuser is not allowed to contact the victim at all (including in-person, phone calls, texting, emails, and letters). In other cases, people may use a Peaceful Contact Protective Order. Peaceful Contact means the abuser can only contact the victim when discussing specified topics (e.g. making decisions about their children).
Other common forms are the Stay Away Protective Order, with which the abuser is not allowed to come within a specified distance of the victim, and the Move Out Protective Order, where the abuser must move out of the home. Or, the Court can order a Counseling Protective Order, where the abuser must go to counseling for the duration of the order.
In most cases, the court requires the abuser to surrender all firearms to law enforcement for the duration of the order.
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)
What if I do not qualify for a Protective Order?
If you do not qualify for a Protective Order, there are other legal actions you can take. You may be eligible for a Peace Order, which must be filed within 30 days of the act occurring. Acts covered by Peace Orders include an act that causes serious bodily harm, an act placing her 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.
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.