INDIANAPOLIS — On Tuesday, Mayor Joe Hogsett and multiple other leaders joined together to highlight the month of October at Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“The story of violence in Indianapolis is too often a story of domestic violence,” Hogsett said. “During this month, we in the City acknowledge the true scope of this issue while highlighting the resources available to victims of every age, background, and gender.”
In their State of Domestic Violence Report 2020, the Domestic Violence Network (DVN) stated that on a given day in Indiana, prior to 2020, there were at least 1,807 victims/survivors served by direct service providers.
“Domestic violence affects 1 in 5 Hoosiers, however, as our State of Domestic Violence Report 2020 makes clear, it is important to remember that the data are limited to reported information – reports to service providers, crisis lines, law enforcement agencies – and do not capture the thousands of incidents of domestic violence that are unreported nor the thousands of secondary victims of domestic violence, which include child witnesses, family members, and friends,” Executive Director of DVN, Kelly McBride said. “The pandemic exacerbated an already pervasive issue, dramatically increasing the level of violence and the need for law enforcement intervention.”
In January of this year, Danyette Smith was named Program Director of the Indy Champions for Domestic Violence Prevention, an initiative created by Mayor Hogsett and the City-County Council under the Office of Public Health and Safety and administered by the Indy Public Safety Foundation. Thanks to funding passed by the Council in July of 2021, this program has already been a key connector for victims and survivors.
As a survivor of domestic violence herself, Smith says this to victims of domestic abuse, “OPHS and Indy Champions understand the needs of domestic violence prevention firsthand. Through our personal experiences, our Champions can get in your shoes, understand your fear, and walk this path with you as a survivor. We can be the type of support we wanted in our survival journeys. You are not alone. We will do everything we can to reach those in the community who are suffering in silence.”
The Indy Champions work collaboratively between survivors and existing organizations such as IMPD, the Prosecutor’s Office, DVN, Coburn Place, Julian Center, Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Firefly, Silent No More and others.
These groups, through frequent meetings, data sharing, and referrals, work collectively to help guide victims through all the stages of domestic violence: to first recognize a situation as abusive, leave that situation, and then navigate the challenges of finding and maintaining housing, childcare, employment, and financial independence.
Each Indy Champion is assigned zip codes affiliated with the highest volume of domestic cases recorded by IMPD, though their services reach every zip code in Marion County. From there they reach out to families and communities in the area to share information and resources. In addition to being connectors and advocates, Indy Champions also provide direct resources in the form of “Barrier Busters” for those fleeing, or those seeking assistance to flee, domestic violence. Some champions are Spanish-speaking, increasing resident access to these critical services.
The Indy Champions invite those who want to connect with the program to call 317-210-0671. While anyone in life-threatening danger should always call 911, community members can also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline through their website by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or texting "start" to 88788.
The website also has a live chat option and more information about identifying types of abuse and abuse and cultural context.