With Domestic Violence Awareness Month underway, Prince George’s County will hold a virtual town hall Thursday on the issue in an effort to provide resources and services for victims.
The event, which begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, will be hosted by Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy and DMV Mothers Like Me.
The county, which leads Maryland in domestic violence-related fatalities, has dealt with a growing scourge of violence amid the coronavirus pandemic as some remain stuck at home with their abusers.
“When we were hearing from survivors, they were also taking the risk in calling us. They took advantage to go outside and take a walk, or walk a dog, that would be the only time they could talk,” said Delicia St. Hill, a bilingual program advocate at the Family Justice Center in Upper Marlboro, who will take part in Thursday’s town hall. “A trust factor is established and it is a non-judgmental environment. We are empowering you to make decisions that are best for you.”
The Justice Center, an initiative of the county’s Circuit Court, also helps victims involved in elder abuse, human trafficking and sexual assault. Since the center opened five years ago, St. Hill said about 6,000 clients have received counseling, legal services and other needs.
One eye-catching statistic: Since April 2020, there’s been a 30% increase in men and those with children seeking help.
“I have seen men sit in here crying because of their pride and self-esteem,” St. Hill said. “Anyone who comes through this door, we believe you. Our role is to hear your voice and help you with a plan with the partners based on your specific need who can help you through this journey.”
Domestic violence survivor and former Fairmount Heights Council member Stella Hargrove also plans to participate in Thursday’s discussion. The mother of three sons said she endured mental and physical abuse from her ex-husband who served in the Army.
Because of her ex-husband’s controlling nature, she won’t hang hand towels in her bathroom. She doesn’t put canned goods in a particular order in the kitchen.
“I don’t like vacuuming the carpet because if I didn’t go behind and pick up the lint, I would get beat,” said Hargrove, who now resides in Upper Marlboro. “There’s a lot of things I don’t do. I hope telling my story will help others.”
To register for Thursday’s event, go to https://pgsaovictims.eventbrite.com.
Anyone suffering abuse or in need of help can call the Family Justice Center at 301-780-8008 or go to www.pgcfamilyjusticecenter.org.