Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic here in Maryland and across the nation, many families and couples are quarantining together in order to slow the spread of the virus. Stay-at-home orders enacted across the country aimed at protecting our citizens, however, have resulted in increased domestic violence complaints.
USA Today reports that, although stay-at-home orders have caused crime rates to drop, cases of domestic violence have escalated. In fact, in Montgomery County, the police department recorded more than one-third fewer criminal incidents in the last two weeks of March as compared to the previous six weeks. On the other hand, domestic violence calls have spiked to a 21% increase in calls, which translates to 39 per day.
During the current coronavirus pandemic, Maryland Courts remain closed to the public, with the exception of some emergency and criminal hearings. Peace and protective orders regarding domestic and family violence can be handled through an emergency hearing.
Seeking help for domestic violence during a pandemic
Victims of domestic violence, even during times of non-crisis, generally face social isolation. Now, with stay-at-home orders in effect and families spending time together 24/7, abusers can have more tactics to commit abuse and victims cannot easily get away. But even with courts, community centers, churches, and other safe havens shut down, you still have options – local authorities, area domestic violence organizations, and your Rockville attorney can help.
Although many courts are closed, they are not closed for protective orders. According to a statement released by the Maryland Judiciary, “all new protective, peace, and extreme risk protective order (ERPO) petitions will be handled by commissioners. Interim Orders remain in effect until action is taken by the court. If you are in need of protection and are seeking a peace or protective order, or an ERPO, call the District Court Commissioner in your county or Baltimore City. Your request will be heard. Call first to provide information and for instructions on where to go.”
What this means is that, yes, you can get a protective order as soon as you need it. It’s also important to remember that stay-at-home orders do not apply if your immediate safety is in jeopardy. Emergency and 911 services are also in effect for victims of domestic violence.
Local domestic violence organizations
The State of Maryland maintains a list of COVID-19 resources for citizens who need assistance. They offer the following information on domestic violence:
- Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence
Directory of Local Program Response to COVID-19
- Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Find Direct Service Providers
- Maryland Children’s Alliance
List of Child Advocacy Centers and Children’s Services in Maryland
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
- Rape and Incest National Network (RAINN) National Sexual Assault Hotline
Please understand your safety should be your first priority. Then, the Rockville family law attorneys at McCabe Russell, P.A. can assist you in securing a peace or protective order to ensure your continued safety. Call 443-917-3347 or reach out to us through our contact form. We maintain additional offices in Bethesda, Columbia, and Fulton.