New law will strengthen protections for domestic violence victims

A law that goes into effect Oct. 1 strengthening protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault isn’t just a win for the most vulnerable people in society.

It’s also a template for what can happen when legal services advocates working in different areas form a coalition and work for a common cause.

“The most important way this new law will help domestic violence and sexual assault victims is by improving their safety by giving them housing choices they didn’t have before,” said University of Baltimore School of Law professor Michele Gilman, who spearheaded the effort to get the bill through the General Assembly.

“It gives them autonomy in how to secure safe housing,” Gilman said. “They can stay in the property and get the locks changed, or terminate the lease early.”

The coalition brought together advocates who don’t have much of a history of working together in Maryland: lawyers who help domestic violence victims and low-income housing lawyers.

To read the rest of this “Of Service” column in the Daily Record (written by Maryland Legal Aid communications director Joe Surkiewicz), click here.

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