Maryland Slaps Domestic Victims in Face

A bill that would have made it easier for domestic violence victims to obtain protective orders against their abusers has failed in the Maryland House Judiciary Committee. According to The Washington Post , “H.B. 700 would have brought Maryland into conformance with the practices of every other state in the country.”

The bill would have replaced the current Maryland standard that victims must offer “clear and convincing evidence” in order to gain a protective order, rather than a “preponderance of the evidence.” Maryland, the Post pointed out, is the only state using this higher standard.

The failure of the Maryland House to lower the standard–and thus better protect the abused, who are generally women–is a slap in the face to all who have suffered at the hands of partners and can’t get the help they need.

Protective orders can be lifesavers; the lack of them can be deadly. Take the case of Mark Anthony Castillo.  The Montgomery County, Maryland, man drowned his three children in a hotel bathroom after his wife was not given a protective order despite his threats against the children.

Want to let Maryland legislators know how you feel about their decision? Here’s a list of those who voted against and for this important and necessary bill:

Against making it easier to obtain a protective order:

Curtis S. Anderson (D-Baltimore), Benjamin S. Barnes (D-Prince George’s), Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore), Frank M. Conaway Jr. (D-Baltimore), Donald H. Dwyer Jr. (R-Anne Arundel), William J. Frank (R-Baltimore County), J.B. Jennings (R-Baltimore County), Kevin Kelly (D-Allegany), Gerron S. Levi (D-Prince George’s), Tony McConkey (R-Anne Arundel), Victor R. Ramirez (D-Prince George’s), Samuel I. Rosenberg (D-Baltimore), Todd L. Schuler (D-Baltimore County), Luiz R.S. Simmons (D-Montgomery) and Michael D. Smigiel Sr. (R-Cecil)

For:

Kathleen M. Dumais (D-Montgomery), Benjamin F. Kramer (D-Montgomery), Susan C. Lee (D-Montgomery), Susan McComas (R-Harford), Kriselda Valderrama (D-Prince George’s) and Jeffrey D. Waldstreicher (D-Montgomery)

Comments

  1. This is quite a disappointment. I can’t imagine why most of these legislators opposed the bill, what other stakeholders could they have been protecting?

  2. Sadly, Maryland has gone very backwards since I left the state after a divorce over a decade ago. It used to be very friendly and progressive towards women and mothers. Now father’s and men’s rights activists and politics have taken root. It’s really horrible.

  3. Adrianna says:

    Makes you wonder about the politicians doesn’t it, are they protecting their own asses?

  4. Thank you, Elizabeth, for writing about this. It seems like the father’s rights extremists are gaining political power, and why not when we read so often about politicians who abuse their own partners? The guys will protect the guys, and children, mothers, and victims be damned! Keep publisheng the names of the lawmakers who defeat bills meant to protect women and kids. It’s time we let them know we will not keep silent about safety and abuse. Too many have died already.

  5. Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for letting us know about one more slap in the face for women’s safety. It seems the father’s rights extremists are being heard more and more, and reality is pushed aside. No wonder when we keep seeing politicians’s names coming up as abusers themselves. But the boys will protect the boys until it’s no longer in their interests to do so. Thanks for publishing the names of the politicians who voted against safety. Maybe the more we know about how individual lawmakers vote, the more we can influence them to help women and children.

  6. Excellent piece. Of course, given that at least one “no” voter has a, ahem, “personal” experience with orders of protection explains a lot. Who let the dogs out? Don’t know. But they seem to have ended up in the Maryland legislature.

  7. I think this continues to make Maryland one of the most dangerous states for women. I am sure they would feel different if they had some empathy for their constituents. Apparently they have more empathy towards batterers. Delegate Frank Conaway Jr. has had multiple protective orders on him, for activities which include allegedly smashing his estranged wife’s face through a window. Delegate Luiz Simmons continues to show his love for batterers which includes submitting legislation to protect them and expunge their records. I hope the voters wake up to these actions which are horrific and a travesty to the rights of victims.

  8. Not only did these lawmakers vote no on this important bill, but Del. Luiz Simmons actually slammed grief-stricken mother Amy Castillo during the hearing by alluding to the fact that the judge did not believe that she was fearful enough for her safety because she had sex with her husband right before she sought the restraining order. Clearly, this man has not a clue about the dynamics of coercive control and threats in a dangerous DV marriage, where refusing sex to the mentally ill abuser could cost you your life.

    Good for Ms. for blogging about this important work. The family and criminal courts are failing miserably in protecting women and their children from abusive spouses in custody battles who are now killing their children and themselves in record numbers (75 murder suicides involving custody disputes since June of 2009).

    Ms. should write much more about this national epidemic that is literally killing women and children all over the US.

    Kathleen Russell
    Center for Judicial Excellence

  9. I took special interest in the protective order bill failing because I lived in Maryland until about a decade and a half ago. Maryland has since devolved into being very friendly to fathers’ rights activists and their lies about domestic violence, “false” allegations of abuse, so-called “shared” parenting and much more. I won custody of my son and a moveaway during a contested custody battle back then, and I know since these horrid changes have taken place in Maryland that I would never have won if I lived there today. Abused women are no longer safe in Maryland.

    I’m glad I have a son. I wouldn’t want my daughter to live in a world that treats women and especially mothers so poorly.

  10. Protect abuse victims says:

    I agree. This is very disappointing. This is a national crisis that must be addressed. We should start from the position of caution. Let the accused prove otherwise. The family courts and DV courts go out of their way to empower abusers. It is nothing but a myth that women make up abuse.

  11. Some of the delegates who voted against protection for victims are associated with Fathers and Families. If you check Fatthers and Family site they applaud Luiz Simmons and the other delegates. They also want DV records expunged and are on the “false allegation” bandwagon. There are several female delegates who appear to be traitors to the sisterhood. They claim to want protection, but don’t vote for it. The voting record speaks volumes. Simmons has allowed some dv protections, but they are like breadcrumbs or lip service. What it comes down to is that they are pro-criminal rights. There is even one delegate who had a dv history that includes smashing his wife’s face into glass. Everyone of the delegates who refused to allow this victim protection bill needs to be ousted from office. Good people are for victims rights, not criminals rights.

  12. Don’t forget that a Baltimore judge just married a couple to help the alleged abuser get out of a domestic violence rap.

    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/TheLaw/baltimore-judge-marries-alleged-abuser-victim-trial/story?id=10126378&page=3
    Baltimore Judge Marries Accused Abuser to Victim During Trial to Avoid Testimony
    Judge Darrell Russell Offered to Pause a Domestic Violence Trial for a Marriage Ceremony
    [ABC News]

  13. This is very disappointing. I suspect a cry-wolf effect. It may be true that a minority of women sometimes exaggerate or invent charges to obtain custody, but the greater number of them simply want protection from genuinely abusive behavior, which is often carried out in such a way that she cannot prove it (not taking photos or audio tape or footage of it at the moment it happens – how easy would that be, what presence of mine would be required? It would not be very easy) or the proof she has is not submissible for the purposes of the order (heated e-mail or facebook exchanges or posts, but police assume it takes two to tango and ignore it as so much “he said she said”, or consent to tape needed, etc.).

    There have been a number of high-profile murders of children by men whose human and/or legal obligation as biological or stepfathers or partners of the mother is to protect these children, in recent months. Maryland is taking a step backward in this regard by making it more difficult for women to obtain orders. Crazy apes 1, victims 0.

  14. Of course the judges in Maryland are more interested in who a woman is fucking than about the crimes that have been committed. Doesn’t this remind you of a rape trial and supposed rape shield laws?

    Don’t for a second believe that judges are some special cut above the rest of us. They aren’t. They come with, and live with, the same biases prevalent/endemic in our society: Scum.

  15. Great topic and it needs more media attention and more focus from feminists and their allies. Abused women are losing custody to their abuser and a lot of it has to do with the Fathers Rights and Men’s Rights Activists with their “friendly parent” policies (how are abused women supposed to be “friendly”???), shared parenting in family court (“THE PLACE” for high conflict and abuse), and parental alienation syndrome (that masks child abuse). These policies further the patriarchy and further harm women and children. Wake up, feminists!!

  16. I guess we are going to go backwards in time. Let’s impregnate all women, keep ‘em barefoot, take away the right to vote, any property they won must immediately be turned over to the nearest ,ale relative…lets see what else?

    WAKE UP MARYLAND!!!!

  17. Got a correction/clarification about Dr. Amy Castillo and the PO hearing: Simmons did not directly bring up the fact that Dr. Castillo had sex the day before she went for a protective order. He did say that he was looking at the transcript and there were things in it that went to her credibility but he didn’t want to read directly from the transcript because he didn’t want to “embarrass” Dr. Castillo. He went after her credibility.

  18. Mothers against A$$ho!es says:

    How can Dr. Castillo not be credible? She said her kids were in danger, now they are dead. I guess she wasn’t lying, but the only way to prove this is for her children to die?!? Then Simmons has the nerve to question her credibility? What an @$$#o!e.

  19. United States if one of the worst places for women, who had been abused by their partners. Look what their politicians are doing! They are basically putting abused women in “their place”. YOU LEFT YOUR MAN, YOUR FAULT, NOW DEAL WITH IT YOURSELF.
    If she does die- SO WHAT, SHE WAS NOT GOOD FOR HER MAN ANYWAYS.
    Vote them out, put more reasonable people on their places. Otherwise we will see slavery returns in their next vote.
    Thank you for writing such an appropriate article!

  20. So, if you have sex, or rather, “consent” to get fucked by someone, it makes you less credible?

  21. I agree, Jo. How DV is handled by the family courts is heinous and the media and feminists need to be making a lot more noise about it, but there are a lot of good activists and organizations and individuals out there working this issue and making some progress. it’s just hard as hell to do. the courts are shrouded in protection and reflect the patriarchal society we live in. Plus,it’s virtually impossible to get the MSM to cover the issue.

  22. Maryland Politicians should refer to this Document, which claims that Russia has bad policies for DV victims. We know how Hypocritical they are, claiming one thing, then doing the opposite. So, in my book, Maryland is much worse to DV victims than Russia now. Just don’t try to toot otherwise.

    http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eur/136054.htm

  23. kristin says:

    seems like a gender disparity in the for and against.

  24. Thank you for highlighting the actions of the Maryland House Judiciary Committee! Voting against women on this bill was Delegate Michael Smigiel ( Mike Smigiel) who is a lawyer from Elkton, MD. He has represented a sex offender in a criminal case that involved abuse of a child as well as a whole lot of other violent charges. I guess Smigiel doesn’t believe women, or children, when they tell the courts about violent abuse. Well, I don’t ‘believe’ Smigiel should be re-elected in 2010.

  25. Did you notice the ones opposed to it were ALL guys? WTF! Notice that I didn’t say MEN…What is up with these sadists. Do they do this to their own families? It makes me ILL!

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  2. [...] only one reason for this absurd requirement: that the Maryland legislators who voted for the bill, listed here, believe that women who testify that they’ve been abused are less credible than men who deny [...]

  3. [...] only one reason for this absurd requirement: that the Maryland legislators who voted for the bill, listed here, believe that women who testify that they’ve been abused are less credible than men who deny [...]

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