• Bill Raines

United Way South-Central Indiana Works to Address Domestic Violence

By:Bill Raines

Lawrence County Zephyr

LAWRENCE COUNTY - (December 2, 2021) - Domestic violence in Lawrence County continues to be a concerning issue.

During 2011-20212 Indiana recorded a total of 64 domestic violence deaths which included two within Lawrence County.

Domestic violence remains a problem for residents in Lawrence County. As of last year, 33 percent of crimes reported to the Lawrence County Prosecutor's office were domestic violence related.

The Centers of Disease Control was in Lawrence County in 2010 because the county was leading in counties in the country for domestic violence. One of those cases leading to a murder.

On August 27,2020 Phillip " Butch" Deckard shot Charlene Silvers his girlfriend after a domestic dispute. The two were in a relationship for over 13-years.

" We have started using the donations and funding to address this very important issue, we will start our own programing to address this major issue," said Kim Burgess.

The UWSCI is striving to ensure that resources are made available to the victims of domestic violence. " We partner with several organizations to deal with domestic violence," said Kim Burgess, Executive Director of UWSCI.

Burgess says we have created the Lawrence County Coalition Against Domestic Violence and other partners.

" I feel like the United Way led the way in addressing this issue, by creating the coalition. The contributing factor in domestic violence in Lawrence County number one issue is it is culturally and socially acceptable," said Burgess.

Domestic violence in Lawrence County is multi-generational according to studies, according to the study by the CDC study in 2011.

In the report shows 40 percent of the women and 27 percent of the men are affected by domestic violence, which outlines how the issue disproportionately impacts women.

" No one wants to address this issue, no one wants to talk about it, I have talked to several women and they all have stories. But how do we break this cycle when it is accepted among men to hit women, and women to hit men," Burgess added.

" This is not acceptable for someone to lay their hands on you. But this has been done for multi-generations and people feel this is the norm. I had a woman told me the other day, I wish someone would have told me about this back in high school,"

According to Burgess many keep these issues private, they get the bruises, and then continue to act as though this is the best family in the world and keep the abuse hid. " This has got to stop"

The Lawernce County Problem Solving Court is set to end the cycle of violence through timely, focused, and collaborative response. Lawrence County's Problem-Solving Court is the only certified program in the State of Indiana. The problem-court was started in 2014 and results of the programs are working.

Joe Diebert, case manager for Lawrence County Probation Department has been working with the United Way in helping with the effort to break the cycle of domestic violence.

However, Burgess points out the program is designed for the men and not the women who are the victims of these crimes.

"The focus of the program is what they can do to transform the guys, which is a good thing, but once you get the crap beat out of you, you're left on your own, " Burgess continued.

There were no resources for victims of domestic violence according to Burgess.

" There is no Problem-Solving Court, case management, there is nothing,"

Now the courts have been working to address the needs of victims affected by domestic violence. Krystal Shelter, from the Lawrence County Prosecutors office has been working as an advocate for victims of domestic violence.

The UWSCI is trying to help victims of domestic violence by creating a program which would allow the following up with them, ask how they are doing, provide resources and get them training, and education. This will enable them to get out on their own.

Victims are encouraged to go to the Hoosier Hills PACT or call 211, which have resources and information on programming to be able to provide where to go for resources that are currently available.

For more information about this and other programs of South-Central Indiana call 812-278-8613.

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