O'Malley asks religious leaders to help combat domestic violence

Gov. Martin O'Malley on Tuesday kicked off the second year of an expanding initiative aimed at getting faith leaders — specifically men — involved in combating domestic violence, especially during a coordinated weekend in October.

O'Malley addressed an audience of some 90 religious leaders at the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis on Tuesday and discussed his administration's effort to reduce violent crime against women and children. The administration has set a goal of reducing such crime by 25 percent by 2018 — to build on the 23 percent drop between 2006 and last year.

He said the state had seen a 22 percent decrease in homicides of women since last July, a drop that equates to 10 lives saved.

"This is not a woman's issue, this is an us issue," O'Malley said. "We can't say there's a conclusion until there isn't one life lost" to domestic violence.

The Interfaith Domestic Violence Initiative has built partnerships with state government agencies as well as with governments in Baltimore city and in Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties. The group wants leaders of all faiths to address domestic violence with their congregations on the weekend of Oct. 24.

Judge Karen Friedman, who started the group last year, said she hopes to have all counties in the state involved and that more male faith leaders need to step up.

"This is not a woman's issue," Friedman said. "This is a human issue."

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