By Brenda L. Holmes
In recognition of this being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, all in the community are invited to attend a candlelight vigil honoring those who have lost their lives to domestic violence, those who struggle to break free, and those who have found freedom.
The event is 6:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at Sheltering Wings, 1251 Sycamore Lane, Danville. It is being presented by the shelter and the Hendricks County Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Sheltering Wings is a facility in Danville for women and their dependent children who are fleeing domestic violence situations. Each year the staff helps to organize a candlelight vigil.
The coalition has been up an running again for three years. Helping to organize that group is Julie Randall, who served as the first executive director at Sheltering Wings.
The Hendricks County Coalition Against Domestic Violence is dedicated to ending domestic violence through community collaboration with law enforcement agencies, the criminal justice system, and medical and social service agencies. The HCCADV works to improve systems that respond to domestic violence by providing advocacy, community outreach, education, and policy development.
Members of the organization include domestic violence advocates, law enforcement, health care professionals, prosecutors, judges, family support agencies, and others who are committed to providing justice for victims and enhancing safety for families and communities.
The coalition became active again when domestic violence statistics began to rise on a consistent basis. Law enforcement agencies across the county keep track of all of their runs, including those for domestic violence.
In 2009, there were 1,631 domestic violence runs reported. In 2010, those numbers increased to 1,702. From just January to October of 2011, the agencies logged 1,279 runs.
Randall explained that in 2011 the Hendricks County prosecutor filed domestic violence charges 467 times. Those charges included 260 for domestic battery, 106 for invasion of privacy, 22 for strangulation, four for stalking, 13 for sexual assault, 37 for criminal confinement, and 25 for interference in reporting a crime. There were also 755 protective orders issued in 2011.
In 2011, Sheltering Wings took 853 crisis calls and housed 190 people — 95 women and 95 children.
The coalition has taken these statistics and developed training for law enforcement and first responders to help people in a domestic violence situation. A lethality assessment includes questions that can be asked quickly so, depending on the answers, it can be easily determined if the person is in danger.
The domestic violence danger assessment can be found on the HCCADV website at www.hccadv.org/danger.pdf.