Circuit Court Protective Order Practices: In the Best Interests of the Child?

Domestic violence is a major challenge for our community. An estimated 93,000 Montgomery County women are likely to be attacked by an intimate partner at some time in their lives. The impact is too often lethal. From mid-2007 to mid-2013, over 300 victims of domestic violence were killed in Maryland. The state’s domestic violence homicide rate has risen each year since 2009. Beyond homicide, many in our County continue to be at risk for rape, strangulation, punching, stalking, and numerous other forms of assault by an intimate partner. For most victims, domestic violence is not one act, but a series of on-going incidents.

Court Watch Montgomery has previously reported about the impact of court procedures on county residents – overwhelmingly women – who are the direct victims of intimate partner violence. This is a report about the children who witness or become abused during incidents of intimate partner violence.

When domestic violence occurs at home it is likely that the household’s children will at some point hear and see wrenching violence between their parents. Estimates of the number of children in the United States that witness intimate partner violence range from 7 million to14 million per year. In one study children were able to accurately describe many more incidents of abuse than their parents believed their children had witnessed.

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