Groups pool services in domestic violence Campaign to urge victims of such abuse to seek help, report it


An umbrella group of 19 community organizations and county agencies is pooling resources in hopes of helping victims of domestic violence.

The Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, which has printed posters, published two brochures and set up a new hot line, is planning a breakfast meeting today at the Anne Arundel Medical Center Community Health Pavilion on Jennifer Road to announce its formation.

The group is intended to encourage victims of domestic violence to seek help and to educate emergency personnel at the medical center, volunteers at the YWCA, police, county health and social service workers, and others to spot signs of domestic violence and encourage victims to report it.

State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee said he began organizing the council several months ago when he asked permission to put a brochure on domestic violence in the hospital emergency room and hospital officials asked for more information.

Mr. Weathersbee's office organized a meeting to discuss the issue, invited a number of community organizations, and dozens of groups showed up for the session, he said.

"What we found was that we're not the only ones who deal with these cases. There were a lot of people out there, the hospitals, the police, the YWCA, who deal with these exact same people," he said.

There were a total of 785 domestic violence complaints filed in district courts in Annapolis and Glen Burnie in the first six months of this year. That is roughly one-third of the District Court criminal docket, Mr. Weathersbee said.

And many of those victims also use some other type of service either before or after they go to court, he added.

"The victims show up across the spectrum of services and agencies, and it's important we get to them as early as we can," Mr. Weathersbee said.

Speakers at today's announcement will include Mr. Weathersbee; Capt. Candi Williams of the Anne Arundel County Police Department; Kris Powell, director of Community Partnerships for the medical center; and Lorraine Chase, director of the YWCA's domestic violence program.

Hot line calls will be answered by YWCA staff and volunteers, said Kristin Riggin, a spokeswoman for Mr. Weathersbee.

The hot line phone number is 222-6800.

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