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Technology Helps Victims Avoid Abuser's Gaze

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Videoconference software offers abuse victims a way to testify in a Montgomery County court without having to face their abuser.

 The videoconferencing option, which was recently approved, is offered by the Montgomery County's Family justice Center, which is one of three facilities nationwide that provides comprehensive help for victims of domestic abuse.

The Family Justice Center is where domestic violence victims in Montgomery county can seek help and an opportunity for victims to petition a judge for a restraining order against their abusers without having to be in court.

"You don't have to see your abuser because you have to do everything on the video," says former victim Ana Valdez. She adds that this makes testifying easier because it removes the fear of having to face your abuser in person. 

Valdez should know she was nearly killed by her boyfriend four years ago, and now works at the Center as a victims advocate.

"The petitioner when they come in for the temporary restraining order are not isolated, and they're able to avail themselves of all of the services that are available to them at the Family Justice Center," says Circuit Judge Marielsa Bernard.

"So they're not just having the enforcement of the Sheriff's office they're having the State's Attorney, Health and Human Services they're getting therapy,"
says Montgomery County Sheriff Darren Popkin's, whose department runs the center.

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