violence - the hits keep coming
While strides have been made through education,
public awareness, law enforcement, and prosecution, there is still
a lot of work to do when it comes to curbing the vicious cycle
of domestic violence.
Fifty-one people died in a one year period in the State of Indiana
as a result of domestic violence, according to the Indiana Coalition
Against Domestic Violence (ICADV).
Dr. T. Neil Moore, executive director of the Indiana Criminal
Justice Institute noted that the decision to batter is often
a matter of control and a calculated choice. He said variables
such as stress, mental illness and substance abuse may exasperate
situations, but are not the cause.
On September 23 in Ripley County Circuit Court, Johnny R. Sandlin,
29, of Cross Plains, pled guilty to Domestic Battery with a prior
conviction. He was given the maximum sentence of three years with
Sandlin was facing other felony charges as well, which were pled
in an agreement that he would plead guilty and not have a jury
trial. Prosecutor Ric Hertel noted that the case was a tricky
one, since the victim was not cooperative. This is often the case
in domestic abuse situations. If it is a husband and wife, or
a couple in a relationship, they are reluctant to testify against
the person they still love, even though theyve been abused.
In this particular incidence, police had responded to a residence
in Cross Plains on January 19 of this year. Upon arriving they
could hear a female screaming for help according to information
from court documents. A 911 call had been made earlier from that
residence alerting police.
Police could clearly see blood on the victims mouth, lips,
and hands. She told police she was asleep on the couch when she
was awakened by Sandlin, who accused her of sleeping around with
other men. She said he drug her off of the couch to the
floor, up against the book case, where he began choking her around
the neck, and covering her mouth with his hands, telling her to
shut up. At the time the victim was about eight months pregnant
with Sandlins child. The couple also have two other children
that had been taken by the Department of Child Services, from
a previous domestic situation, according to court records.
A sad note to the situation was that the victim was given the
victims right form, and offered medical attention or a safe
house, but she refused. She said she didnt have the money
and couldnt afford to do anything until her baby was born.
The story is a real one and not one that is all that uncommon.
Thats why people working with agencies such as Safe Passage
(a domestic violence shelter serving Ripley and surrounding counties)
are doing everything they can to remain in tact as the economy
tears at the financial support, which typically comes from grant
money. They are asking businesses, organizations, individuals
and local government agencies for assistance as they serve a five
county area with this much needed shelter.
On Saturday, November 7 there are a couple of fundraisers that
will support Safe Passage. First the sixth annual No Excuse for
Abuse 5K Walk/Run will take place at 8:30 a.m. at the Batesville
Police Department. It is sponsored by the Ripley County Prosecutors
Office. Then at 11 a.m. that same day, A Cup of Kindness
ladies luncheon at the Sherman House will be held with proceeds
again going to the local shelter.
The keynote speaker for the luncheon used to travel the comedy
circuit and is also a Prevent Child Abuse Indiana worker from
the Indianapolis area.
Domestic abuse has no barriers. It crosses every line and extends
from one generation to another. Many Hoosiers continue to
suffer first-hand, the devastating and far-reaching impacts of
this incessant cycle that only courage can break, noted
Another sad fact is that reports with how many people are abused
each year does not reflect the true number. Most domestic
violence is not reported, Prosecutor Hertel noted. Moore
agreed, saying, The reported figures reflect but a fraction
of the real picture. He says the reluctance to report abuse
to authorities stems from fear of retaliation, stigmatism, or
Moore says in order to reverse this trend of silence, we must
remain vigilant in our efforts across the state to educate the
public by raising the profile of domestic abuse and holding perpetrators
accountable. He says this type of violence cannot be ignored.
Domestic violence affects all sectors of our society, but
education, awareness and diligence are what can bring about change.
Moore calls all service providers together to bring about the
change needed for victims to feel safe and secure. He noted that
the public and private sectors need to bring into the forefront
the fact that domestic violence affects everyone. By working
together we can be the voice for victims and offer help to heal
and create a positive environment for families, communities, and
Moore called on everyone to work together saying The acts
of domestic violence belong to us all. It is not simply a legal
problem, a health issue or a law enforcement dilemma. If we are
to achieve real progress we must work together on local, state
and the national levels to make effective changes.
October is set aside as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The prosecutor agreed with Moores statement about domestic
violence not being just a law enforcement or criminal justice
problem. He said, No city or town is immune to it.
He believes by combining efforts, the cycle of abuse can be broken.
He invites you to take part in the No Excuse for Abuse Walk. For
additional information you can contact his office at 812-689-6331.
To find out more about the fundraising luncheon at the Sherman
House, which also benefits Safe Passage, contact 812-933-1990.
If you need help and are faced with a domestic violence issue
you can call the above number or the 24-hour toll-free hotline
at 1-877-733-1990. The daytime toll-free hotline number is 1-866-933-1990.
Safe Passage is a completely confidential organization that offers
help to anyone who is experiencing domestic violence, whether
it be women, children, or the elderly.