The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Faces of Domestic Violence

October 27, 2012

Who can stop domestic violence? You

Change will take time, communitywide action

ANDERSON, Ind. — Ending domestic violence doesn’t have to be a pipe dream.

The elimination of abuse in relationships — with time, cooperation and commitment — is possible, said Colleen Yeakle, coordinator of the Indiana Coalition of Domestic Violence’s (ICADV) prevention initiative.

“For so long people have thought about domestic violence as something that is inevitable,” she said. “It is part of our culture, but our culture is us. Everyone has the opportunity to influence, the power to take a stand and say these aren’t our values.”

The movement to end domestic violence is a young one beginning only about 35 years ago. Its focus for the majority of that time — as it needed to be, Yeakle said — was on intervention. Volunteers, community leaders and organizations wanted to seek the best way to react to the epidemic of family violence and how to help those in the midst of their crisis — how to get help, how to get out and how to hold the perpetrator accountable.

And while that is a crucial component, Yeakle said the aspect of prevention was often overlooked.

“We were saying, ‘We have to end this violence,’ but we were less prepared to do it or to know how,” she said. “But we can. We do it by addressing social norms that engage the violence.”

And to do that, a community must work together with the common goal of saying, “we won‘t tolerate” domestic violence anymore, she said.

“We need to sweat the small stuff,” Yeakle said. “We can’t let abusive behaviors go by in school — abusive language and behaviors aren’t OK with us. We need to address social norms and respectable behavior with organizations, schools and the community where youth and adults spend their time. We need to emphasize healthy and respectable relationships at home, in the community and in the workplace.”

Prevention is now key

ICADV director Laura Berry said her call to action for the community would be in implementing preventive awareness and programs.

“We clearly over the years have been doing effective intervention work — providing safe housing, creating laws, improving law enforcement’s response to victims of domestic violence, holding offenders accountable, educating courts, creating task forces and commissions for a comprehensive response,” she said.

“Now our vision or focus needs to shift. We’ve been doing it for almost 30 years and the only thing we’ve successfully done is reduce the homicide rate for men. We have no less domestic violence than we did before.”

Victims are safer and there are more resources for them now than before, but the number of victims isn’t going down, Berry pointed out.

She said schools need to start early with education about healthy relationships; adults need to be positive role models for youth in practicing appropriate behavior in relationships and parents need to have open conversations with their children about domestic violence and sexual assault.

“We need to step up and create safe environments for the next generation of youth,” she said. “And we need to support the work that is being done on the local community level for prevention.”

Recognize, respond and refer

Kandi Floyd — a victim’s advocate with Alternatives Inc., Anderson’s domestic violence shelter and resource agency — said there are three steps the community can use in addressing the epidemic of domestic violence: “recognize, respond and refer.”

“We have to learn to recognize that domestic violence can and does happen in every single one of Madison County’s communities,” she said. “We can’t be blinded by the issue.”

Once the problem is recognized, Floyd said people need to respond by attending educational sessions hosted by Alternatives or other organizations. Or by responding to a family member or neighbor in crisis.

“We need to address these issues,” she said. “We can’t keep it behind locked doors anymore.”

And referring people to the proper information and resources is critical, and that knowledge, Floyd said, comes with education.

“There is a wealth of knowledge and resources in Madison County,” Floyd said. “We need to start utilizing those resources. Our numbers may go up because more people are reporting and getting out of these situations but I hop in the long run it will reduce our numbers and reduce our fatalities.”

While action to help prevent domestic violence is the direction experts say the movement should go, the support for increasing intervention efforts should continue.

Alternatives CEO Mary Jo Lee said her women’s shelter is always in need of items — cleaning supplies, household and paper goods, hygiene items and food. They always appreciate groups holding drives for those items. Volunteers can always be used to help support staff at the shelter as well.

And another way the community can help Alternatives’ efforts is by asking its educators to speak to their congregation, group or workplace. No group is too small, Lee said.

Lee stressed that Alternatives is more than a shelter and that message needs to be spread. Last year they helped about 300 victims who never came to the shelter and answered nearly 3,700 crisis calls.

Making a difference

A young mother with three young children — aged 1 to 7 — came to the shelter in recent weeks. She’d never heard of Alternatives, but a friend knew of the abuse the woman suffered and recently read a story about the shelter encouraging the woman to get out.

In just the short time she and the children have been there staff has noticed a significant change. The children, scared and unsure before, are acting like children now. The woman — who wasn’t allowed to work, has been emotionally and physically abused for more than a decade — now has some control over her life, even though it is still chaotic.

Her life has been changed forever, all from one decision.

Find Abbey Doyle on Facebook and @heraldbulletin on Twitter, or call 640-4805.

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Faces of Domestic Violence
  • 1028 news Domestic Violence illustration06 - Copy.JPG Who can stop domestic violence? You

    The elimination of abuse in relationships — with time, cooperation and commitment — is possible, said Colleen Yeakle, coordinator of the Indiana Coalition of Domestic Violence’s (ICADV) prevention initiative.

    October 27, 2012 1 Photo 5 Stories

  • Legislation comes a long way, but more change needed

    Each year the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence sets its legislative priorities based on year-round discussions with its members and legislators to see what needs are out there and what is going on in the field.

    October 27, 2012

  • 1028 news Empty Table Settings 18a.jpg Children affected by abuse too

    While some may think the atmosphere at Alternatives, the Anderson domestic violence shelter, would be a somber one, instead it is a building filled with laughter and joy.

    October 27, 2012 1 Photo

  • Gissendanner, Kristy.jpg Kristy Gissendanner: 'Vivacious and sweet'

    Six-day-old Gabrielle Gissendanner and her 18-month-old brother Michael weren’t far from their mom when Harry Gissendanner shot and killed Kristy in their Anderson home in 2004.

    October 27, 2012 1 Photo

  • John Davis: ‘Defined by your actions and inactions’

    John Davis wants his pain to make a difference. He’s hopeful sharing what he experienced and witnessed growing up will empower someone else to leave a dangerous situation or avoid it altogether.

    October 27, 2012

  • ‘It was life-altering’

    Casey Huffman should have taken her son Camdon to his first day of kindergarten this year. She should be picking out a Halloween costume for him. She should be thinking about how to help him achieve his hopes and dreams. Instead, Casey mourns over his all-too-early death.

    October 27, 2012

  • Tomlinson, Tina.tif Tina Tomlinson: 'She was a hoot'

    Tina Tomlinson was just “plain fun,” her family recalled. The mother of two and dedicated grandmother was someone family could look to for a good time.

    October 27, 2012 1 Photo

  • 1024 news Domestic violence forum 108a.jpg Domestic violence prevention is possible, expert says

    Gender stereotypes are just one thing that Todd Cawthorn and five other speakers, during a 90-minute panel discussion Tuesday night, talked about that create an environment where domestic violence is accepted.

    October 23, 2012 3 Photos

  • 1023 news Dating violence talk 33a.jpg Teens can be victims of domestic violence, too

    Dating violence has been seen locally in relationships as young as sixth grade, Alternatives Inc. prevention specialist Todd Cawthorn said.

    October 22, 2012 2 Photos

  • 1021 news pendleton town court 020.jpg Justice for victims

    While a protective order is an important piece of the legal puzzle that domestic violence victims have to solve, Judge Stephen Clase stresses to each that it is, after all, “just a piece of paper.” “They won’t stop a knife or a bullet,” he said. “I tell them they need to be on guard at all times.”

    October 20, 2012 1 Photo

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Online Extras
  • Where to find help

    Alternatives Inc., 24-hour crisis line
    (765) 643-0200 or (866) 593-9999
    Kandi Floyd, Christy Clark, Dara Tracy -- victim’s advocates
    Victims Assistance Program, Madison County Sheriff’s Department
    (765) 646-4078 or (765) 646-4079
    Gay Doss, Jaime Wilhoite -- victim assistance providers
    Victim Assistance Program, Madison County Prosecutor‘s Office
    (765) 641-9673
    Melinda Padgett, Karla Montgomery, Alison Lutz, Gracie Roman, Laura Evans -- victim assistance providers
    Victim Assistance Unit, Anderson Police Department
    (765) 648-6773, Lessa Johnson, Christy Jones -- victim assistance specialists
    Sowers of Seeds Counseling, Batters’ Intervention Program
    (765) 649-3452
    Vaughn Walker -- supervisor

    Anonymous The Herald Bulletin Fri, October 12
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