Gov. Martin O'Malley's concern to prevent domestic violence by increasing the strength of restraining orders is sincere but appears inadequate ("O'Malley official legislative agenda includes minimum wage increase, 'wildland' expansion," Jan. 20). Some men who beat their wives and threaten them with death will ignore such orders, no matter how strong.

Equally dangerous, if there is only "soft tissue damage," such as horrible bruises to the skin, and no internal damage, the assault is labeled a misdemeanor in some states, a green light for further abuse. A better way to protect such victims is to provide counsel, ensure they develop strong self-esteem and a marketable skill, and circumvent the individuals/change the systems that are supposed to uplift them but undermine them instead. The state should also consider providing a protective alternative such as is afforded to FBI informants.

Hilda Coyne, Baltimore

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