[r22] Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Monday, September 30, 2013

There were 58 domestic violence homicides in Indiana between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013.  On any given day in our state, over 1,000 domestic violence victims and their children find refuge in our state’s emergency shelters and transitional housing programs.  Every day, thousands of other victims remain silent and afraid as their abusers threaten, intimidate, physically, emotionally, and psychologically abuse them.   In October, designated as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” we mourn the victims who have lost their lives to violence, reach out to those who are still affected by it, and celebrate the lives of the Survivors who have broken the cycle of violence. 

Living in fear of violence has a major impact on a victim’s daily activities and sense of self.  People who are being abused may seem afraid or anxious to please their partner; go along with everything their partner says or does; check in often with their partner to report where they are and what they’re doing; or receive frequent harassing phone calls from their partner. Warning signs of physical violence are people who have frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents” or frequently miss work, school, or social occasions, without explanation.  

Nearly 4 million American children are growing up in homes afflicted by domestic violence.  Children from violent homes have higher risks of developmental and learning delays, behavioral or emotional issues, alcohol/drug abuse, post traumatic stress disorder, and juvenile delinquency. Witnessing domestic violence is the single best predictor of juvenile delinquency and adult criminality. It is also the number one reason children run away.

In many cases, victims (young and old) blame themselves for the abuser’s behavior and will try to change themselves, believing this will make the violence stop.  It doesn’t.  Victims may play down the seriousness of incidents in order to cope, and may not seek medical attention when it’s needed.  Many are ashamed of their circumstances, and do not reveal the violence to family or friends.  

There is help available!  The Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence operates a statewide 24-hour toll-free hotline for victims of domestic violence. Individuals calling the crisis line receive emotional and practical support including crisis counseling, criminal justice information, personal advocacy, information and referral services, and violent crime compensation assistance. Indiana’s 24-Hour Crisis Hotline is 1-800-332-7385.  There is a National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. 

In District 22, there are two domestic violence service providers:

-Kosciusko Co Shelter for Abuse, Inc (better known as The Beaman Home) provides a 24-hour crisis hotline, emergency shelter services, and nonresidential outreach services
- 24 Hour Crisis Hotline (574) 267-7701 or toll free at (877) 725-9363

-Elkhart County Women's Shelter provides a 24-hour crisis hotline and emergency shelter services 
-24 Hour Crisis Hotline (574) 294-1811

A personal message to victims - it can get better.  When I was a child, my mother was a victim of domestic violence.  After years of enduring it, she summoned all of her courage and broke the cycle of violence.  She was surrounded by people who love her, and life got better. 

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please seek help. The resources are there to get out and develop a better life. While October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, let’s be vigilant and aware of this issue year round.