BROWNSBURG — According to statistics provided by the Hendricks County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, three in 10 women and one in 10 men are victims of domestic violence abuse. None are more horrific than murder, which has seen another senseless act once again shake the local community when Emily Giles was shot and killed by her husband, Michael.
With that in mind, the HCCADV and Sheltering Wings are having a town hall meeting 6:30 p.m. July 11 at Eaton Hall in Brownsburg.
“I think the thing we’re missing is getting information to the victims that they need to see,” said Julie Randall, coordinator for the HCCADV.
The group had their first town hall after another domestic violence tragedy, when Angela Warnock of Brownsburg was killed by her estranged husband.
“We realized we had to do more to prevent these kinds of deaths,” added Randall, former executive director of Sheltering Wings. “We were just outraged. It really said to me that we weren’t doing enough. She was trying to do things right and the system was not supporting her and it was frustrating.”
Where the town hall meeting comes in is that there is a coordinated community response to domestic violence, with all the systems that interface with victims to help not only educate, but support. This group includes professionals in law enforcement, health care, and family support agencies where they can come together with the public and talk about how the system can be improved.
“I felt like there were a lot of people that felt like they wish there was something they could have done to prevent,” said Randall. “We want to give basic education, how to look for signs in people, make sure they can get the resources they need. It absolutely needs to be said that whenever a victim finally makes a decision to leave that violent relationship, that is the most dangerous time. That is most often the time when women are murdered, when they make that decision, so they need to have a plan to help prevent those things from happening.”
Randall has stern advice for those who feel they might be either directly involved in a potential domestic violence situation or for those who might know someone that could be.
“I think a lot of times, people wrongly believe that it’s none of their business, that what goes on inside someone’s home is none of their business and that’s not true,” she said. “That’s one of the biggest barriers that we have to get through.”
One of those major avenues of getting through is the Personalized Safety Plan, which helps victims take the correct steps in becoming safe and outline how to get out of abusive relationships without some of the danger. The safety plan is a series of 11 questions that someone who might be a victim can fill out to give themselves tangible answers they might not have thought existed, such as making up a “code word” that family and friends know is a cue to a call for help. It also outlines situations that can arise and give potential victims the chance to give answers should those situations arise. Randall says the plan allows for victims who are not always comfortable with taking the same approach.
“Not all women want to go to a shelter, so there are things we can help them with like support groups or getting protective orders,” she said.
There is also a collaboration in the works with Hendricks Regional Health that will allow the group to get face to face with a group of potential victims that they otherwise never would.
“We’re working hard with HRH to establish a protocol for domestic violence, so when you go in for a wellness check, to the emergency room, or to get your appendix out, for example, they’re going to start giving both men and women a domestic violence assessment,” said Randall. “I wish we had it already. (Emily Giles) just had a child and at all these well checks with her baby we could have been getting resources to her. I think we’re a couple months away from piloting it. We’re hoping we can, because the women that are dying aren’t really the women that are involved in the system. They are the women that don’t have the resources available. We need to get the resources to these women, doing it by going through the health care system.”
Randall also gave advice for those potentially in an abusive situation on a few misconceptions that could save lives if known ahead of time.
“One of the biggest problems with domestic violence is that women think they can change the men, that they can get better, and that the woman is going to be the one that changes them and it’ll all work out,” she said. “The reality of it is, the men don’t change. You’ve just got to get out of those relationships. People don’t just snap. It means they’ve been abusive for a long time and it gets to a boiling point.”
In addition to trying to reach new potential victims through town halls and the health care system, Randall says the coalition has placed domestic violence magnets inside more than 30 apartment complexes and hundreds of rentals in Hendricks County, hoping to give information on unhealthy relationships as well as helpful resources.
Domestic violence handbooks are available by contacting Randall at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting the website hccadv.org.
Just the Facts
What: Domestic Violence town hall
When: July 11, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Eaton Hall, Brownsburg
Sidebar- Think someone you know might be in an abusive relationship? Follow these signs.
If the person you think is an abuser is:
- Acting excessively jealous of his/her partner
- Insulting or embarrassing his/her partner in public
- Yelling at or trying to intimidate his/her partner
If the person you suspect is a victim is:
- Acting submissive
- Showing physical injuries or wearing unusual clothing as if to hide an injury (i.e.: sunglasses indoors, long sleeves in summer)
- Afraid of partner, talks of jealousy, possessiveness, or temper
- Restricted from seeing family and friends
- Limited in access to money or a car