Domestic Violence

Domestic violence cases are very sensitive because the perpetrators are often the spouse, former spouse, or significant other of the victim. We established a Domestic Violence Unit in July 1999 in order to handle the unique issues that are part of all domestic violence cases.

The personnel in the unit include:

  • 3 Prosecutors
  • 2 Victim Assistants
  • 2 Trial Assistants
  • 1 Detective

In the criminal justice system in Maine, Domestic Violence in and of itself is not a criminal statute, but used as language with other crimes (ie: assault, criminal threatening, terrorizing, etc.) to define the relationship involved between the defendant and the victim.

Examples of Domestic Violence

  • Assault
  • Criminal Mischief
  • Criminal Threatening
  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual Assault
  • Stalking
  • Terrorizing
  • Violation of a Protection from Abuse Order

Defining Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a crime committed between family or household members. By law, family or household members are defined as:

". . . spouses or domestic partners or former spouses or former domestic partners, individuals presently or formerly living as spouses, natural parents of the same child, [related] adult household members . . . or minor children of any household member when the offender is an adult household member. . ." Domestic violence and substance abuse are often intimately linked and occur simultaneously. In fact, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, substance abuse is involved in approximately half of all intimate partner violence.

Workplace Safety Plan
Domestic violence does not mean the violence remains at home. It follows its victims wherever they go. Work is a predictable place where a victim is sure to be found. The workplace, however,  can also be a refuge and help a victim find his or her a way out. Because of this reality, employers are legally, morally, and fiscally obligated to address domestic violence in their workplaces. An employer has a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace. One way to to do this is to develop a Workplace Safety Plan.

What Is Domestic Violence?
Who Does Domestic Violence Affect?

Domestic abuse is the single major cause of injury to women - more than automobile accidents, stranger rape, and muggings.

Any woman can be abused regardless of her race, educational background, religion, income level, or marital status

Why Victims Stay

People often wonder, “Why does she stay?” The short answer is that leaving is the most dangerous time for a domestic abuse victim. The long answer includes:

  • Isolation
  • Language barriers
  • Embarrassment
  • Threats of physical violence
  • Children
  • Lack of financial independence
  • Culture
  • Pride

The list goes on.

If you are a victim you should know it is not your fault. No matter what excuse an abuser may use, no one deserves to be beaten or threatened. There are laws to protect you. There are places to get help.

The important thing to know is women do leave. Survivors of domestic abuse do build new lives. If you are a victim of domestic violence, get more information on what you can do.

Gender and Domestic Violence

Please note that abusers are often referred to as “he” because most often the abuser is male. Please be aware that abuse can be – and is – perpetrated by women against men, or in same sex relationships.

The common element is one person in a domestic relationship uses power and control to emotionally, financially, and/or physically keep the other in a powerless position.  While substance abuse can make the violence worse, it is not the underlying cause of domestic violence.

If You Are Being Abused
Legal Protection from Abuse

If you believe you are a victim of domestic abuse, learn more about Protection from Abuse Orders in Maine.

If you are the victim of physical violence, threats, property destruction, or your perpetrator has violated your Protection from Abuse, you should contact your local police department immediately.

The District Attorney's Office prosecutes cases brought to us from the police. Learn more about court proceedings.

If You Want to Leave

Victims of domestic abuse are in the most danger immediately after leaving the abuser.

Safety plans can help make leaving a safer process. To learn more about Safety Planning visit Family Crisis Services or call Family Crisis Services 24-Hour Hotline at 207-874-1973 in the Portland area or toll-free at 800-537-6066.

Other Information for Victims
For information on bail, whether or not a victim can drop the charges, and how the criminal justice system works, go to our general FAQs and court proceedings.
Domestic Violence Resources
Cumberland County is committed to helping those in need of domestic violence help. The links below provide more information regarding domestic violence as well as where to get help.
Domestic Violence FAQs
How do I change bail conditions?
After the Court sets bail (either cash bail, personal recognizance, or conditions), it is the defendant who can file a motion to amend bail.  The victim cannot request a change in bail on his or her own, and even though the prosecution considers the wishes of the victim, it is not controlled by him or her.
How do I drop the charges?

Victims in domestic violence cases cannot simply "drop the charges."  It's the same reason that if a person wants to "press charges," it is not up to them.  Prosecutors are the only entities who have the authority to brings charges and dismisses charges.

That said, if you are the complaining party, we want to receive your input on and feelings about how you want us to proceed through this process.  Your input could be valuable to the final outcome of the case.

What happens if I receive a subpoena to testify?
A subpoena is not an invitation to the Court. In fact, it is an order to be in Court.  If one does not abide by a subpoena, the Court could issue a warrant for that person’s arrest. Though that is a tactic very rarely used, it is possible and, therefore, a person needs to aware of the potential consequences of ignoring a subpoena.
Domestic Violence in the Workplace
Legal Obligations For Employers

By law employers must give time off, with some exceptions, to employees to deal with the issues surrounding domestic violence.

Employees also may have a right to collect unemployment compensation in some cases where domestic violence has played a role in the employee’s inability to maintain their employment.

For more information call:

  • Maine Unemployment Benefits Division at 207-287-3805
  • Unemployment Call Center at 800-593-7660 or TTY 1-888-457-8884
Workplace Safety Plan

An employer has a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace. Under the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970, employers are required to provide their employees with a place of employment that "is free from recognizable hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employees."

Developing a Plan

One way to create a safe workplace is to develop a Workplace Safety Plan. Workplace safety plans should be developed in conjunction with the employee survivor and may include some or all of the following:

  • Provide parking close to the employee entrance.
  • Provide police/security in the parking lot at the end of the day or shift.
  • Explore whether the domestic violence advocacy project can come to work to meet with the employee.
  • Have a photo of the abuser at the front door or reception desk.
  • Supply copies of any protection orders or bail conditions to security, supervisors or the front reception desk.
  • Move the employee away from the front door, change their phone extension and work assignments, and remove identifiers from company directories.

How a Workplace Safety Plan Benefits Employers

Taking care of employees is the right thing to do. Worker absenteeism, tardiness, increased health care costs, higher turnover and lower productivity costs money.

There are also countless incidences where an abuser used company time, the company car, phones, faxes, emails and even coworkers to harass and stalk their victims. Accidents have occurred due to an abuser’s lack of focus on the job.


A workplace domestic violence policy and other contacts and resources to help create a Work Place Safety Plan are linked below: