HAMILTON COUNTY — According to the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence there were 98 domestic violence-related fatalities from July 2020 to June 2021. Along with that domestic violence, cases increased in 2020, but not all counties have facilities to house women and children in domestic violence situations.
That’s why Hamilton County is planning on opening its own women’s shelter and recovery center.
"One of the things that have been a little frustrating, especially to people in Hamilton County, is if they experience an abuse situation, we normally have to take them out of county," Mark Heirbrandt, a Hamilton County Commissioner said.
City officials have been working for four years to secure a location. One big reason is that when victims must be taken outside of the county to stay safe, it disrupts their life especially if they have school-aged children.
"If it's a woman that has children then you have to look for transportation needs to try to get them back into their school that might be up here in Hamilton County,” Heirbrandt said. “Especially if we take them out of county to Madison or Indianapolis it just disrupts the family structure. “
The over eight-acre property will be located on Sheridan Road in Noblesville. So far, it will have safe housing units, and transitional housing units and will offer women and children counseling and resources to get back to normalcy.
Some domestic violence agencies have said that since the pandemic victims appear to be having more complex trauma. There are more mental health issues, as well as many victims being unemployed or underemployed with a lack of resources for them to tap into. However, it's not only affecting women and adults who suffered the abuse. Kids who have witnessed domestic violence are also suffering from emotional issues.
That lack of resources is a void Hamilton County hopes to fill by creating a safe place for both women and children to recover.
"The elected officials here whether it's the county commissioners or the county council really decided that it's time to do this and it's time to do this now to help the people in our community that need these services," Heirbrandt said.
Right now, the project is slated to cost $5 million, but those involved with the project say that could change. Hamilton County has a goal of breaking ground on the project by the spring of next year. The facility will have security, a gated entrance, and a fence around it to keep victims safe.
You can find the preliminary renderings below.