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Are Asian Americans in Maryland less likely to report abuse?

A recent study showed that, as a whole, Asian American victims of domestic violence are much less likely than those of other ethnicities to seek legal help or counseling.

The author of the study attributed his findings to cultural barriers that Asian American domestic violence victims face, as well as to a lack of resources to help victims overcome these barriers and get the assistance they need. The researcher believed that some Asian Americans feel frustrated when they seek help because they cannot get their options explained to them in a manner with which they can both understand and identify.

In Maryland, one option for victims of domestic abuse is to ask a state court for a protective order. A protective order is a civil order that does not involve criminal charges against an alleged abuser. Maryland’s domestic violence laws allow victims to seek out three different types of protective orders, all of which have the goal of preventing a perpetrator of abuse from continuing his or her cycle of violence.

Even when the state courts are closed for regular business, a domestic violence victim may obtain an interim protective order in any Maryland county. At this stage, the law gives a victim considerable flexibility. He or she may obtain a protective order without giving notice to the abuser.

The interim order takes effect immediately, but a court will hold a hearing and make a decision about whether to make the interim order a “temporary” protective order within 48 hours.

Within one week of entering its “temporary” protective order, the court will hold a hearing to determine if it should issue a “final” protective order. At this final hearing, both sides will have the opportunity to tell their version of the events to the court.

While Maryland may see popular efforts to overcome the cultural barriers some victims face when trying to get relief from a pattern of domestic violence, it may well be that for now, the best means of empowering all victims is to educate them about their rights under Maryland domestic violence laws.

Source: PsychCentral, “Asian-Americans Rarely Report Domestic Violence”, Rick Nauert, July 17, 2012

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