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
- Criminal Mischief
- Criminal Threatening
- Sexual Assault
- 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.
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
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:
- Language barriers
- Threats of physical violence
- Lack of financial independence
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.
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 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.
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.
- Through These Doors: Cumberland County Domestic Violence Resource Center
- Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine (Serving Cumberland and York Counties)
- Immigrant Resource Center of Maine Serving Refugee & Immigrant Communities
- Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence
- Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault
- Elder Abuse Institute of Maine
- Pine Tree Legal Assistance
- Volunteer Lawyers Project
- Maine Legal Services for the Elderly
- Preble Street Anti-trafficking Services
- County Violence Intervention Partnership
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.
By law employers must give time off, with some exceptions, to employees to deal with the issues surrounding domestic violence.
- Read the law and its exceptions: Title 26, M.R.S.A. §850. Employment Leave for Victims of 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.
- Read the Unemployment Compensation Misconduct clause at Title 26, M.R.S.A. 13, §1043 ¶ 23 B (3)
- Read the Disqualification Clause Title 26, M.R.S.A. 13, §1193
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
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:
- Cumberland County Domestic Violence in the Workplace Policy (PDF)
- Through These Doors Work Place Initiatives
- Impact of Domestic Offenders on Occupational Safety & Health: A Pilot Study (PDF)
- Domestic Violence in the Workplace: Resources for Supervisors, Managers, and Workplace Responders (PDF), presented by Maine Employers Against Domestic Violence
- Corporate Alliance to End Domestic Violence
- The Family Violence Prevention Fund