SILVER SPRING – Montgomery County officials are looking for ways to combat the growth of domestic violence incidents after recent statistics say that domestic violence orders increased by 5.4% between 2017 and 2018.
According to county data, in 2018, Montgomery County residents requested 3,159 domestic violence orders reported whereas in the year 2017, there were 2,997 orders. In the same time frame, there was a 3.2 percent drop in peace protective orders filed from 2017 (2,237 orders filed) to 2018 (2,165).
Domestic violence protective orders are granted to blood relatives, spouses or partners in a current or prior relationship. Parents and step-parents or step-children who have lived together during the past 90 days receive orders as well. A judge grants the vast majority of orders.
Peace orders apply to those who are unrelated and usually involve neighbors, explained Tom Manion, director of the Montgomery County Family Justice Center. Protective orders, which are issued by a judge, are awarded to those who can prove that they have been seriously harmed or are scared that they will be harmed. Sexual assault or attempted sexual assault victims or for those falsely imprisoned or stalked are normally awarded protective orders.
A protective order is designed to protect the person who requests the order. Depending on the judge’s ruling, a recipient of a protective order may be ordered to stop threatening or committing abuse. The recipients also may be ordered not to go near the home, job or school of the person who has been granted the order. The order lasts for one year and can be renewed.
“At the end of the year, that order expires. If the petitioner is in fear for their safety,” they can request another order, Manion said.
“We often find that when parties are separated, once that separation happens, and you spend a year not dealing with that person,” Manion said.
Often, people requesting a protective order are granted a temporary order until a judge can hear from both sides. The temporary order is only good for one week, Manion said. During 2018, 1,809 temporary orders and 1,094 protective orders were granted by county judges.
Recently, a 15-minute documentary created by County Cable Montgomery about domestic violence and protective orders received a first-place award under the category of “Community Awareness” from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors.
The video showed how county officials handle more than 5,000 domestic violence calls each year and how those calls and visits are handled.
According to the video, one in three women and one in 10 men experience victimization, but only one in 23 cases of sexual or physical abuse are reported.
The video includes interviews with members of the sheriff’s department, the Maryland State’s Attorney’s Office and the Family Justice Center.
“I am thrilled that County Cable Montgomery received first place from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors Excellence in Government Programming Awards,” County Council President Nancy Navarro said. “While the subject of the documentary is somber, it is encouraging that efforts by the Montgomery County Council to shed light on important topics are being recognized. County cable funding enables local government to produce top-quality content on important issues affecting our community.”
In a Facebook post, Councilman Tom Hucker called the film a “well-done & incredibly important video documentary.”
The video was produced and reported by Susan Kenedy, communication specialist and senior producer for the council. Michael Springirth, audiovisual specialist for the council, filmed and edited the film.