The outreach campaign includes ads posted on Ride On buses and bus shelters, social media and other communications to encourage victims of domestic violence to seek help.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and, on Monday, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and County Councilmember Sidney Katz announced a countywide campaign to raise public awareness of the issue.
Domestic violence affects people of all age, gender, racial, ethnic and socio-economic groups and includes physical, emotional and financial abuse, according to a press release from the county.
“We urge Montgomery County residents who feel afraid of their partner to call us so we can help,” Leggett stated in the release. “Both our Family Justice Center and our Abused Persons Program offer free, confidential support to people experiencing domestic violence.”
The outreach campaign includes ads posted on Ride On buses and bus shelters, social media and other communications to encourage victims to seek help.
Leggett and Katz, who is chairman of the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, were joined at the kickoff event by Police Chief J. Thomas Manger; Sheriff Darren M. Popkin; Debbie Feinstein, chief of the Special Victims for the State's Attorney's Office and chair of the Education and Outreach Committee for the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council (DVCC); Cheryl Kravitz, a survivor and member of the DVCC; and representatives of the Family Justice Center, the Abused Persons Program, the Commission for Women and Court Watch Montgomery.
“I am so very pleased to serve as the chair of the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council,” said Katz in the release. “It is this group that helps organize efforts to inform and educate the community regarding this important issue.”
Individuals encountering domestic violence are encouraged to call the Family Justice Center (FJC) at 240-773-0444 to access multiple services in one location, or to call the Abused Persons Program (APP) at 240-777-4673 for counseling and services to help end the cycle of violence. The FJC and APP coordinate support services, so individuals can contact either one to get needed help. However, in case of emergency, people should not hesitate to dial 911.
“To transcend from victim to survivor, an abused person needs to know there is a community that cares and will be there to help,” said Kravitz in the release. “Montgomery County is demonstrating its commitment to people who experience domestic violence."
“Since May 2009, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, in coordination with affiliated Family Justice Center agencies, has provided a broad range of lifesaving and essential services to over 9,000 persons subjected to domestic violence,” said Popkin.
Individuals are encouraged to find support and prevent tragedy by calling the FJC or APP before things escalate. In Maryland, 55 people died in domestic violence-related deaths between July 2015 and June 2016.
“The Montgomery County Police remain committed to every victim of domestic violence,” said Manger. “Our work goes beyond just investigation and arrest. Making sure that all victims get the follow up care they need is just as crucial. Please don’t suffer in silence. Seek assistance from the Family Justice Center. We are all here to help.”
"Please call if you need help, or if you have a friend or family member that needs help. Many of us see a friend in need, but don't know where to go – the FJC is here to help you help your friend," said Feinstein, who stressed the importance of accessing services.
“As chair of the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, I was very pleased to be able to participate in the Domestic Violence Awareness Month Kick-Off event,” Katz said. “The county provides so many services to help those in need and it is vitally important that our residents know where they can go for assistance.”