Domestic abuse program links victims with services

A program designed to limit domestic violence and abuse in Maryland is making inroads in other nearby states, with the city of Pittsburgh adopting new provisions to assist victims. Official reports show that the city will begin to implement a program based on the Maryland Lethality Assessment Program in December. That program is designed to measure the potential for a partner accused of domestic abuse to commit another crime, including homicide or other assaults. After that assessment is complete, the victims may be put in contact with representatives from a women’s center, who can help them learn more about their legal options and shelter availability.

News reports indicate that the program was attached to legislation passed in honor of a 33-year-old woman who recently died in the city. The woman had called 911 just one day before she was found shot dead in her house. The woman’s 51-year-old boyfriend later admitted to killing her; he included that information in a suicide note, killing himself during a police standoff in January 2013.

Advocates who strive to prevent domestic abuse say that the program is likely to improve the relationship between abuse victims and service providers. This program is far less focused on vilifying the alleged criminal; instead, victims learn more about empowerment and gain the confidence they need to leave dangerous situations. Domestic violence may be able to stop without the issuance of a protective order in these cases, as long as victims are able to quickly get away from dangerous, negative situations.

Individuals accused of domestic abuse do not have any reason to fear additional prosecution under provisions of the Maryland Lethality Assessment Program. In fact, this type of initiative is focused on helping the alleged victims, not vilifying the alleged abusers. Accused abusers who are facing threats of protective orders or temporary restraining orders may benefit from a consultation with a qualified defense attorney, who can help them learn more about their legal rights and options.