U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a long-time cosponsor of the Violence Against Women Act, joined Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder in Rockville today to announce grants for programs across the country that will be modeled after Maryland's successful effort to help reduce domestic violence homicides. Speaking at the Montgomery County Family Justice Center, the Vice President and Attorney General shined a national spotlight on the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, which has utilized a comprehensive program to reduce Maryland's domestic violence homicide rate by 34 percent over the past five years through a network of law enforcement, health professionals, faith organizations and others, to identify and support high risk victims with key services.
"Too many in our community -- too many of our neighbors -- suffer in silence at the hands of domestic violence, too afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Most often the victims are women, but the statistics permeate all socioeconomic, ethnic, racial, religious and gender groups," said Senator Cardin. "Victims need our support, not just from law enforcement, which is at the core of ending the violence, but also medical care and economic opportunity.
"Maryland has not been immune to this problem but we are making a difference in the lives of women and men across our state. I am proud that our state is a model for the nation, demonstrating to victims of domestic violence that there is a way out; they deserve our respect and love, not violence and fear.
"One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner every year. In Maryland, in 2009, there were more than 18,500 reported cases of domestic abuse and 38 fatalities. This most recent reporting period has been the lowest number of domestic violence-related deaths on record for the state, but these numbers are still unacceptable."
In total, the Department of Justice will award $2.3 million to twelve sites across the country as part of the new Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration Initiative (DVHP Initiative). The DVHP Initiative, created by the Justice Department's Office on Violence Against Women, (OVW) helps state and local jurisdictions reduce domestic violence homicides by effectively identifying potential victims and monitoring high-risk offenders. The DVHP Initiative is modeled after programs in Maryland and Massachusetts, where the use of coordinated teams of law enforcement, prosecutors, health professionals and victims' services significantly reduced the domestic violence homicide rate.