[r55] COLUMN: Assisting victims of domestic violence

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, February 13, 2015

Assisting victims of domestic violence

Domestic violence can happen to any person at any time. It is a pattern of behavior in a relationship that is used to gain or maintain power over an intimate partner, and affects people of any race, age, gender, socioeconomic background or education level. This serious issue has no boundaries and continues to affect Hoosiers from all across our state.

In Indiana, from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014, 1,743 men, women and children were denied shelter due to over capacity. There are 57 domestic violence service providers throughout the state, and in order for them to continue supporting victims of domestic violence, it is important that they receive adequate resources and funding. Without sufficient funding, these facilities are often forced to close their doors, preventing victims from receiving the necessary support and shelter they need.

This session, House Republicans have made it a priority to support victims of domestic violence. In October, Speaker Bosma announced a partnership with the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) for our annual charity initiative. ICADV is a statewide alliance of domestic violence programs, support agencies and concerned individuals who provide resources, information and training to those who work with victims of domestic violence. I am proud to join my fellow legislators in supporting this organization, and look forward to continue raising awareness on this topic.

In order to address this issue, State Representative Cindy Kirchhofer (R-Beech Grove) authored House Bill (HB) 1007, which aims to increase funding for domestic violence programs. In the previous biennial budget, $2.5 million was appropriated each year to these programs. HB 1007 would make an annual appropriation to the Criminal Justice Institute of $5 million for each of the next two years for domestic violence prevention and treatment.

HB 1007 was recently presented to the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee, and as vice chair, I was honored to listen to testimony in support of this bill. We had the opportunity to hear from our colleague, State Representative Woody Burton (R-Whiteland), who discussed his personal experiences witnessing domestic violence as a child. I applaud him for his courage in sharing such an emotional story with the committee. There is much work to do as the bill continues through the legislative process and before it reaches the governor’s desk, but I am pleased it passed out of committee, with bipartisan support, with a unanimous vote.

While this bill will help to make sure that domestic violence programs have the resources they need, it is paramount that victims of domestic violence take the first step and seek help if they are in an abusive relationship. ICADV provides a 24-hour statewide hotline for victims of domestic violence, which can be reached by calling 1-800-332-7385. In our community, there are also a number of domestic violence service providers that individuals can reach out to. If you are in danger of domestic violence or abuse, please contact one of the service providers below. 

  • Rush County Victim Assistance: (765) 938-1555
  • Safe Passage, Inc. of Ripley County: (877) 733-1990
  • New Directions of Decatur County: (812) 662-8822

If you would like more information on ICADV or to join us in this effort to raise awareness about domestic violence, please visit www.icadvinc.org. I also encourage you to visit http://iga.in.gov to learn more about HB 1007. By working together, we can make sure that domestic violence programs are adequately funded and that victims of domestic violence are obtaining the support they need and deserve.

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Rep. Ziemke (R-Batesville) represents portions of Rush, Fayette, Franklin, Ripley and Decatur counties.