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home : columnists : columnists August 23, 2017

Providing safeguards to victims of domestic violence

By Kathy Kreag Richardson
Indiana State Representative, District 29

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to American women between the ages of 15 and 44. In fact, combining the total number of women who are in car accidents, mugged and raped doesn't outnumber those who are hurt by their partners in domestic violence situations. This is alarming and an important public policy issue that needs to be addressed.

We as lawmakers are working to establish a team of professionals to study the deaths and serious injuries in Indiana resulting from domestic violence. By creating, in statute, an 11-member committee to review all fatalities or near-fatalities in the state that occurred due to domestic violence, we can better tailor our resources and address the issue.

Currently, six counties have committees to study domestic violence cases, including Grant, Hendricks, Madison, Marion, St. Joseph and Tippecanoe. This law would expand the practice statewide. Members would train teams stationed in communities, review data, and identify trends and patterns. Results of their findings would be reflected in their recommendations to the state, which could help in developing policies aimed at preventing future tragedies.

Another measure that could soon be law would require wireless carriers, under court order, to allow victims of domestic violence to separate cell phone plans controlled by their abusers. When victims of domestic violence try to leave dangerous situations, their perpetrators often still have access and control of their phones.

Those who are on family cell phone plans can be tracked by their abusers who also have access to phone records. This can be dangerous for people who are leaving violent situations, so they are often encouraged to just get rid of their phones entirely and get a new one. With this new law, victims would be able to keep their phones, their phone numbers and their contacts, who are also their support system.

This bill would also allow judges to include pets in a protective order for domestic violence. This would mean that police officers would be able to retrieve pets along with other personal property from homes on behalf of domestic violence victims. National studies show about 48 percent of domestic violence victims report that they delayed leaving because they were fearful of what would happen with their pets.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone. Whether physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions are present, please seek help. In Hamilton County, Prevail offers 24-hour assistance to victims of crimes and abuse. For help, please call 317-776-3472 or 317-773-6942. The National Domestic Violence Network also connects victims to highly trained advocates at all times. By calling professionals can talk confidentially with anyone experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship.

Kathy Kreag Richardson is a Republican State Representative from District 29, which includes Noblesville, and has served in the legislature since 1992. She also is the elections administrator for Hamilton County. You may contact her at h29@in.gov.

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