EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - October is domestic violence awareness month, but we learned there’s something coming in January that could really make a big difference for Tri-State families.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.”
On Tuesday, Ivy Tech students and community members took part in the university’s domestic violence awareness panel.
And as we learned, the first people victims usually tell are not the authorities.
“You know how many times domestic violence normally occurs before they make the first contact to law enforcement or a helping agency? 7 to 9 times. So it’s tragic,” Harry Heyer, Director of the Amends intervention program that offers counseling to prevent and end people using abusive behavior, said.
Typically victims tell family and friends first. Then Albion Crisis Response Program Director, Leslie James-Wilhite, said those well-meaning friends and family members often start putting ultimatums of their own on victims which isn’t beneficial.
“And that’s what we find, family members and friends unintentionally do and it ends up not being helpful and ends up sending these victims right back into the arms of their abuser,” James-Wilhite said.
A new class coming in January is based off of feedback from victims themselves who expressed that their family and friends could do more than they realize to put a stop to domestic violence if they only had the right tools and methods of approach.
“Hey I’m concerned about what might be going on and I want you to know that I’m here for you if you need to talk about anything. There are options available to you...," James-Wilhite gave as an example conversation line.
Like the crowd listened to the guest panel, advocates say listening is one of the best things you can do for any victim of domestic violence.