Domestic violence problem not going away

Based on the volume of calls for assistance, the number of local residents asking for help due to domestic violence has been on the rise over the past few years. Connect2Help, which residents can reach by calling 2-1-1, reported 97 calls last year in Johnson County, the highest number since 2010 and the highest among the counties surrounding Indianapolis, according to a new domestic violence report.

Turning Point, which provides assistance to people in domestic violence situations, also had an increase in calls to its Johnson County crisis hotline, reaching 179 last year, up from 123 the year before.

It’s not clear whether the numbers show that more residents are in need of help or more are learning about the local services available; but either way, it’s an issue that remains vital in the community.

The report by the Domestic Violence Network looked at data, calls and services provided to residents in central Indiana who are victims of domestic violence. The report shows that calls for assistance to multiple agencies were up last year in central Indiana by nearly 10 percent and reached more than 20,000 calls. Not included in that number are calls to Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s statewide hotline.

The report also looked at the number of people who died due to domestic violence, which totaled 17 in central Indiana in 2014. Three were from Johnson County.

More than 10,500 victims of domestic violence in central Indiana were given shelter, with most being women and children. But more than 1,700 people had to be denied shelter because of a lack of space, according to the report. The number of people denied temporary housing was nearly triple what it was the year before.

Only about 3 to 4 percent of local domestic violence victims are seeking shelter when they call for help, according to Lisa Shafran, president of Turning Point. That is reflected in the number of local domestic violence victims receiving residential services, which was 23 in 2014. By comparison, 167 sought other services, the report said. Some local residents, including those in Greenwood, also seek services in Marion County, Shafran said.

But when they do call, Turning Point makes sure they can help, she said. For example, a shelter used by Turning Point in Bartholomew County, which also serves Johnson County residents in need, recently was full. But officials did not turn down a request to provide shelter for four people, Shafran said.

“We will find whatever means we need to to keep people safe,” she said.

The Domestic Violence Network released a plan in October 2013 to end domestic violence in central Indiana. The plan included increased awareness and resources. The group is doing training in schools, businesses and community agencies about the signs of domestic violence, including less obvious means, such as jealousy, controlling behavior and animal cruelty.

The latest data show a keen need for continued programs related to domestic violence and the need for expanded emergency housing for victims. The recent report makes this clear.

At issue

The number of calls for assistance points to a possible increase in the incidence of domestic violence.

Our point

A recently issued report shows a continuing need for domestic violence services, including emergency housing, and prevention and education efforts.