“Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence”

Can crimes like domestic violence, human sex trafficking and sexual assault be opportunities to send a message of compassion and love to someone who is suffering?  In a twelve month period between 2013-2014, 54 people in Maryland were killed as a result of domestic violence (Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence).  An estimated 466,000 Maryland women have experienced rape in their lifetime, or 20.5% of the female population in the state (Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault).  Up to 300,000 Americans under 18 are lured into the commercial sex trade every year (Ark of Hope for Children).

We each can play a role in stopping domestic violence and sexual assault before they occur by becoming upstanders not bystanders. Being an upstander means promoting healthy and positive relationships that are based on respect, safety, and equality for each person in the relationship.  Helping to end violence can make a huge impact in a victim’s life. It also sends a powerful message to the perpetrator and the community about what is acceptable behaviour towards others.  We will discuss how we can send these powerful messages of respect, safety and equality in our own city and state.

Suzanne Bailey is an attorney and currently Director for the Women’s Law Center of Maryland’s Multi-Ethnic Domestic Violence Project (MEDOVI) which is a statewide program that provides pro bono immigration legal assistance to Maryland residents who are foreign born victims of domestic violence, human sex trafficking, intimate partner stalking or sexual assault. Some of her current and past commitments are the American Immigration Lawyers Association National Committee on T Visas, U Visas, and VAWA; Governors Task Force on Human Trafficking Foreign Nationals Subcommittee and Human Trafficking Ambassador; Domestic Violence Coordinating Councils; and the Board of Directors for the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence. Read more at www.wlcmd.org.

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