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'We are coming to help': Indy Champions program works to prevent domestic violence

Indy Champions
Posted at 7:53 PM, Oct 30, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS – October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As it comes to an end, prevention advocates with the City of Indianapolis are hoping the conversation continues.

“It’s a leap of faith,” Mick Winfrey said. The Indianapolis mother is a survivor of domestic violence, and an “Indy Champion.” She continued, “You could possibly leave with nothing, but that’s okay. When you’re at the ground, all you can do is go up.”

Her story is a story of strength, resiliency and quite literally one of a champion.

“Me saying, ‘I just have to go with nothing. Me and my daughter will be okay. There’s life on the other side of that.’ I definitely think that Mick from 2015 would be like, ‘You did it,’ “ Winfrey said.

Winfrey joined the city's “Indy Champions for Domestic Violence Prevention” program in the spring.

“We literally survived that fight of domestic violence, so we’re champions,” Danyette Smith said. She is the first to hold the city’s Director of Domestic Violence Prevention title.

The work for Smith is personal.

“It wasn’t by a choice of waking up and saying I’m going to do this. That pain turned into a purpose,” Smith said.

Many may know Smith through the domestic violence prevention grassroots organization she started called ‘Silent No More.’

WRTV Reporter Nikki DeMentri asked Smith: "Why take [advocacy efforts] to the city? Why not just continue with Silent No More?”

Smith responded: “I think if I would’ve kept it at a Silent No More level, it would’ve been a selfish thing. It would’ve been me thinking of myself as that CEO. This is a huge issue. Going to this city level, it literally makes things louder.”

IMPD’s domestic violence unit is working nearly 5,000 cases so far this year, according to data provided to WRTV by the agency on October 21st.

Last year, IMPD notes detectives had more than 6,000 cases, which is up from more than 5,600 cases in 2020 and is nearly 1,400 more cases than assigned to the unit in 2019.

“As a city we have to get to the point where we say, ‘Hi. I’m so-and-so. I live in Indianapolis and my city has a domestic violence problem and I want to know to do what to help,’ “ Winfrey said.

46218, 46201, 46203: Indy Champions said these are the top three zip codes with the highest number of domestic violence runs by police. The group added IMPD responded to more than 8,200 calls just during the second quarter of this year.

“As agencies, we’re starting to come together more when it comes to domestic violence,” Smith said.

Since starting in January, Indy Champions notes it has reached more than 250 neighbors. They work closely with IMPD’s DV unit, while also being “boots on the ground” letting people know there is help available.

“There’s not one program that’s going to come up with that magic solution. However, together and bringing that togetherness back is something that Indianapolis was missing,” Smith said.

Smith and Winfrey agree their job is non-stop. They are often at crime scenes comforting families after an incident.

“I don’t want any more days where we’re at crime scenes and we’re saying, ‘We’re too late. Oh, they missed a step.' No steps should be missed,” Winfrey said.

The work is far from over. Four domestic violence survivors work with the group at this time. Indy Champions is looking to add a youth champion focused on teens in the next few months.

“We are coming to help, and we don’t care if we have to pound door to door, city side to city side. We’re coming. We’re coming for every victim, every survivor so they can come out like we can come out and start on the right side, the upside,” Winfrey said.

The program runs through a partnership with the Indy Public Safety Foundation and Office of Public Health and Safety.

24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the Indy Champions helpline is accessible. That number is 317-210-0866.

More information is available through their website, too.