Virtually all protective orders promise “no contact” between victim and abuser – but there is one glaring and dangerous exception. Most judges specifically allow contact between victims and their abusers to exchange their child for court ordered visits. Each exchange can be terrifying & dangerous. For many children, an unsupervised visit with the offending parent is unsafe.
It was June, 2014, when County Executive Leggett set up a Taskforce to address this issue after Court Watch published troubling data highlighting this serious problem. In November, 2015 Mr. Leggett voiced support for at least two pilot safe exchange programs. In 2015 and 2016 numerous County Council members voiced support for safe visitation services. Early this budget season Mr. Leggett told one voter “It’s the right thing to do”.
Yet another budget season has come and gone, and there are no services protecting domestic violence victims during the exchange of court ordered visits. Will it take another death of a mother or her children before we set aside the funds needed to provide low-cost, critical public safety services for victims? We hope not.