October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. You’ve seen the advertisements on TV and you most likely have read about it or heard about it on the news. What does this mean to you?
It can mean more than you think. Taking the time to educate yourself about the warning signs of domestic violence and the resources out there to help protect victims can save your life or the life someone you know and love.
According to the Domestic Violence Awareness Project, domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors, which can include physical, sexual, and psychological attacks as well as economic coercion, used by one intimate partner against another to gain, maintain, or regain power and control in the relationship.
No matter how you look at it, the statistics are alarming. In homes where abuse occurs between partners, this domestic abuse also affects children. In fact, children who are in homes where domestic violence occurs are 40-60 percent more likely to be victims of abuse themselves. Children who live in a violent home often exhibit warning signs, including depression, stress, low self-esteem, aggression or passivity, excessive school absences, running away, impulse control.
Educating yourself on how to obtain a protective order and what you can do to protect yourself is vital.
In an emergency situation, the Johnson County Sherriff’s Office encourages you to dial 9-1-1. However, shelters and a number of safe places are found throughout the county. Getting yourself away from the situation and protecting yourself and your dependents from the abuser is the first step to take.
According to the Johnson County Sherriff’s Office, it is statistically shown that the most dangerous time for domestic violence is within the first 60-90 days of separation from an abuser. This statistic stems from the fact that separation is that period of time where the batterer loses control over the victim. To guard yourself, the Sheriff’s office also encourages an order of protection be sought.
Individuals who are allowed to apply for a protective order include household and family members affected by the domestic violence, including those who have been married, dated, had sexual relations or share a child in common with a perpetrator of domestic violence. Those seeking a protective order can be related by blood, marriage, adoption or foster care.
However, a defined relationship between the victim and the perpetrator is not necessarily needed. Sexual assault victims, including child molestation victims or rape victims, as well as stalking victims can apply for an order of protection.
Those not included in the list of appropriate petitioners for protective orders include neighbors or coworkers, strangers involved in situations of road rage, roommates, and orders of protection between an ex-spouse or significant other against the current significant other of an ex-spouse.
Orders of protection in Johnson County are free. Most orders last for a period of two years from the date the order was issued. Under Indiana law, it is possible to obtain a basic protective order without an automatic hearing. This order will protect the seeker of the order at his or her home, workplace, school, day care, and no telephone or indirect contact, which does include online contact. However, the respondent has the right to request a hearing within thirty days. If this is not requested, the protective order can last for two years without further court notice.
For more information on obtaining a protective order, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office encourages those interested to contact Lori Adams with Turning Point Domestic Violence Services. This office can answer questions about and assist victims of domestic violence in completing a protective order, free of charge. Turning Point can be reached at 317-736-8666 or via email at [email protected]
The Domestic Violence Awareness Project and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Web sites were used in assistance with this article.