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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Lawrence County Domestic Violence Coalition seeks to have two beds available at all times for Domestic Violence victims

LAWRENCE COUNTY - MARCH 3, 2024 - The Lawrence County Domestic Violence Coalition is working to provide resources for victims of domestic violence.



Domestic Violence continues to be one of Lawrence County's leading crimes over the last several years with drug and substance abuse being a contributing factor.


In 2021, Domestic Violence was 33 percent of the crimes reported to the Lawrence County Prosecutor's office.


In 2020, Indiana observed a concerning increase in the number of domestic violence cases. In a report completed by the Domestic Violence Network found that domestic violence deaths spiked last year with a 100 percent increase.


The report showed 40 percent of women and 27 percent of men are effected by domestic violence.


The victims of domestic violence have trouble locating resources, agencies and services that follow them in a domestic violence situation.


One of the county's biggest advocates for victims of domestic violence is Joe Diebert, Lawrence County Probation and a member of the Lawrence County Domestic Violence Coalition is seeking a one time grant of $28,000 for victim housing.


Photo: Joe Diebert Lawrence County Probation and member Lawrence County Domestic Violence Coalition


Diebert's passion was seen first hand on Tuesday morning when he made the request for the county's portion of Opiate settlement distribution to the Lawrence County Commissioners.


Diebert gave the Lawrence County Commissioners a detailed budget. Diebert who requested the funds back in December, explained where the money will go in the proposed budget and what the money would be used for.


" I have been before both the county commissioners and county council about this issue of domestic violence within our community. In 2011, the Center of Disease Control that was commissioned by the Lawrence County Council and Commissioners to find out what the extent of domestic violence is in this community," stated Diebert.


Diebert helped with that study, working hard so they could identify the causes of domestic violence.


Photo: Lawrence County Commissioners


" There is a lot of things that are a factor on the this specific topic. However, today I am going to talk about domestic violence shelter. It was highly recommended in that report that they be some type of emergency triage for those victims and survivors of domestic violence that are in immediate need. This is as law enforcement are dealing with the situtation right on the scene, and a place for the victim to go," added Diebert.


" All to often in this community and throughout the years police officers are getting tasked with doing things that they are not trained to do. This is someone going through a traumatic event,"


Law enforcement's job in domestic violence incidents is to keep people safe, enforce the law and deal with the crime scene itself.


File photo


" There has not been a mechanism in place for the police departments in our community for a domestic violence victim a place to go. Becky's Place has become as the only place in town, so to speak for someone to go in need. It is the only place to go if some kind of shelter is needed. Becky's Place does not have the ability to handle this," Diebert pleaded.


The Lawrence County Domestic Violence Coalition has been working on the past three years to providing two beds.


" This is a starting point, not an ending point for all law enforcement agencies, advocacy groups, and patients to come together when police are involved. When the hotline is contacted through Becky's Place and the victim will get immediate service. The advocate will get on the phone, and determine whether they need to go to the shelter or not. During this time period it is critical to determine what is needed for the victim. At this time we do not have that. Currently, we have to go out of town, to get this kind of service,"


This has taken law enforcement out of the county, and a lot of man hours just in domestic violence cases.


Lawrence County Domestic Violence Coalition partnered with Middleway House, and Hoosier Hills PACT, to develop the current plan.


" This is just not one person doing this, there are multiple people on a coordinated effort to bring this service together, and this is what our community deserves,"


Diebert maintains that the county's Opiate Settlement is not tax money, this a settlement allocation given to communities to save lives.


" There has been only one place that has stepped up in this community and that is Becky's Place," Diebert told the commissioners. " Becky's Place has been the only one interested in this and trust me I have been all over the community trying to get city leaders interested in this topic and no one seems to want to address this issue,"


" We all ought to be ashamed of ourselves and I am not afraid to say it. This is shameful that is actually impacting people lives on a daily basis," Diebert emphasized to the county commissioners.


" I want to try and get this done, which has been my mission over the last three years,"


' This $28,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to what is being spent at hospitals, and where ever for these people,"


" I understand non-profits, after I had discussions with you guys before I got here today. I do not look at as that way, I just view it as doing the right thing, and without a doubt this is the right thing," concluded Diebert.


Diebert told the county commissioners there is going to be things in place to how the money is spent. " If you have a problem running through a non-profit or charity then run it through the probation department and track it that way,"


The Hoosier Uplands has already given the group $20,000 for Victim Services.


The Lawrence County Commissioners did not approve the request on Tuesday, until they set the agreement in which groups will be approved for the Opiate Settlement funds.


Commissioner Fish spoke favorable of the proposal. " I do not want to use the term table it, but we want to get an agreement in place first," said Fish.


For breaking news and information go to lczephyyr.org or like/follow the Lawrence County Zephyr Facebook page.


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