BALTIMORE, MD (October 6, 2010) – First Lady, Judge Katie O’Malley today attended and addressed participants of the University of Maryland Baltimore’s Patricia and Arthur Modell Symposium on Domestic Violence. The Symposium, entitled “Giving Voice to Domestic Violence and Its Hidden Victims,” is a conference exploring the wide impact of partner abuse in society.
Judge O’Malley focused her remarks on the personal and systemic barriers that victims, especially young victims, must overcome in order to be safe, and spoke about her personal experience in helping schools address the problem of bullying and teen dating violence. Judge O’Malley also talked about the importance of the landmark gun legislation that Governor O’Malley secured last year.
“As a former prosecutor and now a judge in Baltimore City District Court, I hear and see firsthand the fear and torment of battered women; I see their bruises and their scars. Often, victims come to court with their children – and so many are sad, bewildered and frightened,” said Judge O’Malley. “Last year, Governor O’Malley and Lieutenant Governor Brown made a commitment to reduce violence against women and children by 25% by the year 2012. The first step they took to achieve that goal was to pass legislation giving judges the authority to take guns from the hands of abusers. This historic legislation will save countless lives in our state, where half of all those who die as a result of domestic violence are killed with a gun.”
Last year, the O’Malley-Brown Administration partnered with members of the General Assembly to pass legislation that removes guns from the hands of domestic abusers. This year, the O’Malley-Brown Administration partnered with members of the General Assembly to pass legislation allowing a victim of domestic abuse to terminate a residential lease with a copy of a final protective order. In enacting these laws, Maryland not only comes into compliance with Federal Law, but also joins seven other states in which judges are required to order a respondent of a final protective order to surrender all firearms, and twelve states that require judges to order the surrender of all firearms during a temporary protective order. American women who are killed by their intimate partners are more likely to be killed with guns than by all other methods combined. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, compared to homes without guns, the presence of guns in the home is associated with a 3-fold increased homicide risk within the home. The risk increases to 8-fold when the offender is an intimate partner or relative of the victim and is 20 times higher when previous domestic violence exists.
October is national “Domestic Violence Awareness” month. Last October, the State of Maryland received $2 million in federal STOP Violence Against Women (VAWA) funding and $2.3 million in Recovery Act STOP Violence Against Women funding that the Governor's Office of Crime Control & Prevention allocated for a total of 108 projects statewide to develop and strengthen victim-centered law enforcement, prosecution, and court strategies to combat violent crimes against women and to develop and enhance victim services that address violence against women. Recovery Act STOP VAWA funding created or retained a total of 68 positions in the fields of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking prevention.
The symposium also included remarks by UMB President and pediatrician Jay A. Perman, MD, and an expert panel, moderated by Carole Alexander, MA, instructor at the School of Social Work who was previously executive director of the House of Ruth, a Baltimore non-profit organization that assists women who have left abusive relationships. Members of the panel include Jacquelyn Campbell, PhD, RN, associate dean, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing; Tania Araya, MSW, '95, LCSW; founder and former manager of House of Ruth Teen Dating Violence Prevention Program; and Leslie Morgan Steiner, MBA, domestic violence survivor and author. In addition, Anna Quindlen, Pulitzer Prize winning author, delivered the keynote address.