Victims of domestic violence have a new place to turn for help in Montgomery County and two new laws to help them.
The Family Justice Center in Rockville can be a beacon of hope in the darkest hour.
Two new laws to protect victims of domestic violence in Maryland took effect Monday, October 1.
Under one of the new laws, residents who are forced to leave their employment to escape the threat of domestic violence will be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
"Don't stay on a job where you think you are vulnerable or your children are vulnerable because you need a paycheck," says John McCarthy, Montgomery County State's Attorney. "Get yourself out of there."
Another law that goes into effect Monday requires judges to report whether or not defendants are found to have had a "domestically-related relationship" with their victims. If they have, a notation will be added to their criminal record that indicates they have committed a domestic violence-related crime. That will be used by law enforcement to monitor domestic violence offenders.
The Family Justice Center has served about 4,000 families since it first opened.
"You go to the Family Justice Center and anything you need, somebody there will be able to help you with. And it's free," says Hannah Sassoon, the center's director.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.