Domestic Violence in Maryland: Recognizing the Signs and Protecting Your Rights

Domestic violence affects families throughout the United States, including Maryland. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 34.4 percent of Maryland women and 28.8 percent of Maryland men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner rape, and/or intimate partner stalking.

This crime exceeds physical or mental harm; it encompasses a wide range of actions that can include all household members, with domestic violence arrests profoundly impacting the individuals involved and the community.

Are you dealing with domestic violence in Maryland? Seek solace and guidance at Fait & DiLima, LLP. Our esteemed staff of domestic violence attorneys has more than 100 years of collective experience with family law cases. We’re here to support you during this highly emotional period. From navigating the complexities of filing protective orders to guiding you through the divorce process, let us help you regain control.

This blog explains how to recognize the signs of domestic violence and protect your rights and shares the many resources available. Continue reading to learn more, then contact us at (301) 251-0100 to schedule a consultation.

How Does Maryland Law Define Domestic Violence?

Maryland law categorizes domestic violence as various serious offenses committed by individuals who have a specific relationship with their victims, including:

  • Assault in the 1st and 2nd degrees
  • Rape in the 1st and 2nd degrees
  • Attempted rape
  • Sexual offenses in the 3rd or 4th degrees
  • Attempted sexual offenses
  • Stalking
  • False imprisonment
  • Other acts that cause immediate fear of harm

The specific relationship can include the following:

  • Current or former spouse
  • A previous sexual partner with whom you cohabitated
  • A person connected to you through blood, marriage, or adoption
  • Someone with whom you share a child

What Are the 3 Phases in the Domestic Violence Cycle?

According to The Shelter for Help in Emergency, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Charlottesville, Virginia, the cycle of abuse consists of three distinct phases:

  1. Tension-Building Phase – During this phase, the victim feels as if they are walking on eggshells, obsesses that everything must be perfect, and lives in a constant state of fear, anticipating “something” is about to happen.
  2. Acute or Crisis Phase – This phase consists of the “blow-up,” a worse-than-before environment, threats to safety, destruction, fears for one’s safety and the safety of the children, and drug and/or alcohol abuse.
  3. Calm or Honeymoon Phase – In this phase of the domestic abuse cycle, the abuser reverts to the person the abused party fell in love with, promising to get help, assuring them it will never happen again, and saying, “I love you.”

The cycle of violence can change over time, with the honeymoon phase becoming shorter and the tension and violence increasing. Some victims do not experience a remorseful or loving abuser but instead notice decreased tension before starting a new cycle.

As the cycle begins, the victim may repeatedly go in and out of the relationship before deciding to leave for good. Feelings of guilt, insecurity, and concern for the well-being of children heavily influence the victim’s decision-making process. Most abuse survivors will leave an abusive partner 7-12 times before they leave for the final time.

What Behaviors Are Considered to Be Abusive?

Does your partner or spouse exhibit any of these behaviors?

  • Frequent and unwarranted jealousy
  • Easily losing their temper
  • Constantly criticizing and belittling you or another household member
  • Difficulty expressing emotions
  • Believing they should always be in control
  • Controlling your actions, finances, and decisions
  • Engaging in physical violence towards you
  • Having a history of abuse or violence in their past
  • Acting violently toward others or objects
  • Excessive alcohol or substance abuse
  • Extreme possessiveness and jealousy
  • Expecting constant attention and control over your whereabouts
  • Becoming enraged when others don’t follow their advice
  • Holding rigid stereotypes about gender roles

Such harassment may indicate abusive tendencies. Seek help and support to break the domestic abuse cycle.

How Does Domestic Violence Differ from Other Forms of Abuse?

Domestic violence encompasses a range of offenses tantamount to abuse, such as physical assault, kidnapping, and property damage. What sets domestic violence apart is the connection between the perpetrator and the victim, which can involve blood relatives, adopted family members, domestic partners, spouses, or even roommates.

Contrary to its name, domestic violence is not strictly limited to the confines of a physical dwelling. It occurs within the context of people residing together, regardless of their living situation.

What Are the Penalties for Domestic Violence?

Penalties for domestic violence vary depending on the nature of the offense. Possible consequences include probation, monetary fines, mandatory educational programs on domestic violence and abuse, firearm restrictions, imprisonment, and more. Other factors, such as criminal history and relevant behaviors, can also impact the specific details of the charges.

In addition to these penalties, domestic violence charges can affect the defendant’s rights in areas such as child custody, financial support obligations, and passing criminal background checks for agreements and employment opportunities.

Seeking Legal Representation for Domestic Abuse from Maryland Family Law Attorneys

When your case goes to court, Maryland law determines the penalties your abuser will face. These penalties can range from fines to jail time, depending on the severity of the crime.

In addition to the criminal charges, protective orders can keep you safe while you wait for your court hearing. It can take months or even longer for the hearing to occur, and you may feel unsafe during this time. Our family law group at Fait & DiLima, LLP can guide you through your options, which include:

Protection orders: If you have shared a household with your abuser in the past 90 days, have a blood relationship with them, or have any spousal history, you can seek a protection order.

Peace orders: If the above conditions do not apply to your situation, you can still seek a peace order to protect yourself.

Are you facing a civil case related to domestic violence? Fait & DiLima, LLP attorneys and legal services can expedite the process and obtain an Ex Parte Order within two weeks.

Your safety is our priority, and we are here to help you navigate your legal options.

Assistance, Services, & Organizations for Domestic Violence Victims

The Family Justice Center (FJC)

Abused Persons Program

Call: (240) 777-4195

For 24-Hour Assistance: The Montgomery County Crisis Center

Call: (240) 777-4000

Maryland Domestic Violence Service Providers

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Domestic Violence Services Directory

Protect Your Legal Rights and Break Free from Domestic Violence with Fait & DiLima, LLP

Don’t suffer in silence. If you’re a victim of domestic abuse, seek legal support immediately. But before you enter a search query for “domestic violence divorce attorneys near me,” consider Fait & DiLima, Maryland Family Lawyers. Our team of experienced domestic violence lawyers has a combined 100 years of experience, and we have successfully helped numerous clients escape their abusive situations.

Based in Rockville and serving clients throughout Maryland, our firm fights for individuals dealing with domestic abuse. With our extensive knowledge, experience, and guidance, you can confidently navigate the legal process and reclaim the life you were meant to live.

To take the first step towards a brighter future, contact Fait & DiLima, LLP today. Schedule a consultation with one of our experienced domestic violence attorneys by calling (301) 251-0100 or completing our online form. You don’t have to face this alone—we will move mountains for you on your journey to freedom.

Copyright © 2023. Fait & DiLima, LLP All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Fait & DiLima, LLP
One Church St., Suite 800
Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 251-0100



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