Domestic violence is not just his or her story. Sexual assault is not just his or her story. It is part of their stories. The trauma that comes from violence lasts for years — but overcoming it, that is the story.
— Christine De’Kung, The Julian Center
Domestic violence is not confned to the home where it occurs; it is a community issue. According to the Avon Foundation, 53% of Americans know someone who has experienced domestic violence (2013). That means that half of everyone at work, in school, at community centers, in houses of worship, at shopping centers, and in our streets knows someone who has been abused. Though the prevalence of violence is staggering, those who experience it are often shamed into silence.
Domestic violence is a complex issue that is multi-faceted. Traditionally, domestic violence has been viewed as an issue independent, but correlated, to other social concerns. If a person experiences domestic violence, they are encouraged to seek services to address the speci c issue of abuse. Historically, homelessness, economic disparities, substance abuse, and mental health have been viewed similarly. Efforts to prevent all of these concerns have been approached the same way: independent of one another.
The domestic violence movement, which began in the early 1970’s, has shifted in the past several years. While intervention with victims is still essential to safety, more and more emphasis is being placed on preventing domestic violence from occurring in the first place.
Research has shown a variety of risk factors which raise the probability of an individual experiencing domestic violence. Among them are lower levels of education, economic instability, adverse childhood experiences, mental health issues, and substance abuse. The presence of these risk factors increases the likelihood of domestic violence. Only through examination and understanding of these risk factors can the community work to end domestic violence.
To this end, a new innovative approach to the Community Wide Plan, Intersections: Engage, Collaborate, Transform will lead the community to examine the intersections of domestic violence and factors which could increase or reduce the probability of an individual to experience abuse. Intersections will utilize educational sessions, social media, blog posts, podcasts, and collaborative opportunities to bring together disparate community sectors. Groups that have previously been working in isolation will be brought together in collaboration to transform the lives of Hoosiers across Central Indiana. The Domestic Violence Network will host numerous trainings and community conversations to enable agencies to learn from one another. Opportunities to participate will be frequent and promoted through the Domestic Violence Network’s Advocates Group, social media, and press releases. The overarching goal of Intersections is to facilitate collaboration between entities in different sectors of social services. In the coming years, the Domestic Violence Network will bring together experts who will identify risk and protective factors in the community, and commit to working toward common goals. At the conclusions of the community conversations, task forces will emerge to develop specific goals and objectives to address these issues within Central Indiana.