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What Do You Do When You Become a Victim of Domestic Violence?

You may have thought domestic violence would never happen to you – but it has. You’ve not only suffered physical harm, but the incident is tearing you apart emotionally. Those reactions are normal, but it’s essential that you act swiftly to protect yourself. For immediate legal advice, contact us now.


Call 911


The first thing a domestic violence victim must do is call 911 immediately. The police will take a report and possibly arrest your partner. If you have been physically harmed, seek medical attention and have any injuries not only documented but photographed. If you do not feel safe going back to your home, contact relatives or friends and see if you can stay with them temporarily. Other alternatives include going to a domestic violence shelter. If anyone witnessed the abuse, ask them if they will testify for you in court.


File a Protective Order


For many domestic violence victims, filing a protective order against their abuser is a wise move. In Maryland, you may receive a protective order from either your county’s district or circuit court. Those eligible for a protective order include a current or former spouse of an abuser, an abuser’s cohabitant who is either involved in a sexual relationship with the abuser or who has lived with the abuser for at least 90 days, a person who has had a sexual relationship with an abuser within one year of filing for the order, a person who has a child with the abuser, or a person related to the abuser by marriage, blood or adoption. Any vulnerable adult may also file a protective order.


When filling out the form, you must include why you are seeking protection. List every example of abuse you have been subject to by this person, including threats of violence. Often, the abuser provides their victim or the victim’s family members with support, making it less likely that a victim will press charges. When filling out the form, you can request Emergency Family Maintenance. Have copies of any financial information you have for the abuser, such as pay stubs or banking records, and provide a list of your living expenses, such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, car payments and the like. The form does not need to include your address is you are staying elsewhere and do not want the abuser to know your whereabouts.


With a protective order, a judge can not only inform the abuser to stop harassing or threatening you, but can order the abuser to leave the marital home. If you are not married but live together with your name on the deed or lease, the judge can order the abuser out of the residence. If you are concerned about the welfare of pets owned by you and the abuser, the judge can award you temporary possession of such animals. The judge will also order the abuser to surrender any firearms to police, if that person either threatened you with a gun or caused or threatened to cause you serious injury.


Final Protective Order Hearing


A temporary protective order lasts just seven days, but you can attend a final protective order hearing at the end of that time to extend the protective order. Have all necessary documentation concerning your abuse with you. The judge hears your side of the story, but also that of your abuser if they attend the hearing. Your abuser also tells their version of the story, and the judge makes a decision about whether abuse occurred when deciding to extend the protective order. Your abuser may have an attorney present, and it is critical that you also have legal representation.


Contact a Maryland Domestic Violence Attorney

If you or a loved one has been the victim of domestic violence, you need the services of an experienced Maryland domestic violence attorney. Contact our office for a consultation. We will evaluate your case and advise you of your options going forward.