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COLUMN: We should all say ‘no more’ to domestic violence

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By LAURA BERRY
Guest Columnist

During a recent 12-month period, 58 people died through  acts of domestic violence in Indiana. And just a few weeks ago an abuser in Indianapolis shot and killed a police officer whose brave actions saved the life of the abuser’s girlfriend and her 10-month-old child.

Throughout Indiana we hear stories of abuse too often. Over and over the result is women and children who need shelter, health care, food, clothes and legal assistance. Unfortunately the need always outweighs the available resources. Shelters took in 11,719 victims, but struggled to find other options for another 3,837 people when the shelters were full. And the abuse continues.

We know that domestic violence is about power and control. It is physical, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological. It is behavior that frightens, intimidates, terrorizes, manipulates or wounds someone.

We know we need to continue the critical work to help women in crisis and we will continue to help them one by one. But we believe it’s time to get to the root of the problem. Gloria Steinem said it best: “We are still standing on the bank of the river, rescuing people who are drowning. We have not gone to the head of the river to help them from falling in. That is the 21st century task.”

The root of the problem is this:  

We believe it’s acceptable for men to be dominant and solely in control of a relationship.

We promote women as objects.

Violence is tolerated and victims are blamed for it.

Value is placed on claiming and maintaining control over others.

We believe our family’s privacy is so sacrosanct that we encourage secrecy and silence, and we discourage those who witness violence from intervening.

The Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence has been charged with implementing an expanded prevention plan for our state. We will work with organizations and individuals around Indiana to help people understand that prevention needs to address the root cause of the problem, and show them how to do it.

Change will not happen quickly. But it will begin when we change our thinking. It will begin when we raise boys to become men who respect their partners, when we treat our intimate partners as equals, when we tell someone when we see abuse and when we believe peaceful resolution rather than violence is the proper response.

Let’s all say “No More” to domestic violence. To learn more about domestic violence, discover how you can help and to find resources for victims, visit www.icadvinc.org.

Berry is executive director for the coalition, a state-wide alliance of domestic-violence programs, support agencies and concerned individuals. It provides resources and support to those who serve victims of domestic violence, and advocates for social and systems change through public policy, public awareness and education.