Domestic violence is a widespread societal problem with consequences reaching far beyond the realm of the family. The Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that over 2.5 million women experience violence annually and domestic violence related injuries are the single most common cause of women seeking medical attention in an emergency department. Children who grow up in violent households can easily become the next generation of victims of violence or perpetrators of violence. Recognizing and responding to the special needs of children who witness domestic violence is essential in any effort to reduce or prevent the cycle of abuse. An estimated 30% of those children who witness violence in their homes become perpetrators of violence. A national survey indicates that sons who witness their father’s violence have a 1,000% greater rate of wife abuse than sons who do not. It is estimated that each year in the United States, 3.3 million children ages three to seventeen are at risk of exposure to violence between their parents. Of these, approximately 35% directly experience victimization in some way.
On the Eastern Shore of Maryland, there are three domestic violence agencies serving nine rural counties. The MSCFV serves the largest geographic region – the counties of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot. Population in these five rural counties is approximately 155,000 and slightly isolated from the larger metropolitan areas of the state. Agriculture, light manufacturing, seafood and recreational industries support the economy of the area. The area covers approximately 2,016 square miles. In 2012, MSCFV provided services to 1,230 individuals. Services provided: 492 Counseling/Crisis Counseling sessions, 224 Legal Accompaniments, 404 Legal Advocacy, 333 Legal Information and Referrals, over 6,000 other information and referrals and staff responded to 449 Hotline Calls.