October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, a time in which we stand up against this type of violence and make clear it will not be tolerated. Domestic violence knows no racial, ethnic or income barriers; it can affect affluent communities as well as low-income households.
The one factor that most cases of domestic violence have in common is that they are hidden from view, behind closed doors, as millions of American families struggle against the cycle of physical and mental abuse. Victims are often ashamed, depressed and fearful, and they need our support. That support needs to include access to justice, help with housing, medical care, and economic opportunity.
Maryland is not immune to this scourge. In 2008, there were more than 18,000 reported cases of domestic abuse in our State. The majority of victims were between the ages of 24 and 44, and the use of alcohol and drugs, or both, by either the perpetrator or victim was reported in 30 percent of the incidents.
The only way to end domestic violence is to raise awareness of its prevalence. Victims need to know they can seek help and communities must offer their support. We must make clear that domestic violence has no place in our society and we must help victims escape the cycle of abuse.