Hand in hand, we can reduce domestic violence


We have a crisis at hand, one whose solution seems simple, yet is seemingly beyond our grasp.

Our hands, and how we use them, shape our lives, our worlds, our relationships with those near us. Our hands extend to others our humanity — our ability to build, to create, to nurture, to heal, to give. These same hands give us our equally human capacities to destroy, to harm, to strike, to abuse, to take.

During this month of sacred observances, this season of renewal, we are enduring a crisis that must be met with all the good we possess in our hands, our hearts and our minds. Let us make it our mission to halt the life-shattering evil of domestic violence.

As The Republic’s Mark Webber recently reported, Turning Point Domestic Violence Services no longer has space to shelter domestic violence victims. There are simply too many. The agency that serves Jackson, Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Johnson and Shelby counties has had to divert victims whose numbers exceed Turning Point’s ability to protect them.

Webber reported domestic violence cases in Bartholomew County increased 11 percent from 2020 to 2021. There were 2,132 investigations of domestic violence and abuse last year, a shameful number in a county of less than 84,000 people. Worse, officials including Turning Point Vice President Carrie Kruse told Webber the numbers are likely higher than that due to COVID and underreported abuse cases.

“Staying with an abusive partner was the safest or only option for most survivors (during the pandemic),” Kruse said. “We are now seeing the fallout … a significant increase in physical violence and lethality.”

Statewide, the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence reported 98 intimate partner violence-related deaths in the year between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. That represents a 181% increase over the prior 12-month period. The coalition reports at least one domestic violence-related death in Bartholomew County during the most recent reporting period.

We say the solution to this crisis seems simple, because in theory, it is: Domestic violence is never justified under any circumstances. But as is often the case with seemingly simple solutions, they betray our knowledge and experience. They turn out not to be so simple after all.

We know violence begets violence. Those who raise their hands in violence against an intimate partner or family member almost always are perpetuating a cycle of abuse. Reams of studies and years of lived experience tell us that an abuser often is one who suffered violence at the hands of another.

We know breaking this cycle is the key to halting domestic violence, but if it were as simple as it seems, we would have eliminated domestic violence ages ago.

We know we must do better. We can begin with a personal pledge to never lash out in violence. We can, each of us, commit to ourselves, “Not these hands. Not now. Not ever.”

Seems so simple, doesn’t it?

Until such time as domestic violence is eliminated, we have a societal obligation to protect victims of domestic violence and their families. When vulnerable victims have no place to turn, we must, at the very least, ensure Turning Point and other sheltering agencies have everything they need to extend welcoming, compassionate hands.

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