- But, there is hope, experts say
Normal relationships can be difficult any time, but the holidays intensify problems already facing troubled families.
Indiana mandates that all law enforcement personnel receive annual training in handling domestic violence calls. Officers are trained to understand that domestic violence is a complex issue of one person dominating another through control, force, threats and/or physical violence and that abusers are masters of deception. They often limit their extreme behavior to the home and have winning personalities that make them difficult to spot. But understanding the characteristics of an abuser makes involvement in a domestic abuse situation easier for officers when called to the scene.
Clay County Sheriff's Dept. receive their training as part of an ISU program, while Brazil City Police receive their annual training from CODA.
The Council on Domestic Abuse (CODA) has provided services throughout the Wabash Valley to victims, male or female, since founded in Terre Haute in July of 1985. Using a Stop Grant and Violence Against Women Funds, CODA has been able to provide training for law enforcement agencies, clergy and medical personnel throughout the county.
Working locally with the Clay County Prosecutors Office and Sheriff's Department, case workers from CODA try to identify and provide services in an unobtrusive way that insures privacy and safety for victims of abuse.
A 24-hour crisis hotline is available for victims in abusive situations that are seeking information or crisis intervention. This confidential service can be a first step by the victim in realizing the magnitude of their situation, and need for escape.
Emergency shelter can be provided for victims, and their children, when they leave the home for up to 60 days with food, clothing and in-house support groups and educational sessions available. Transitional housing can also be provided for 12-24 months when needed.
With the help of several local sponsors, assistance in locating permanent housing, counseling, transportation, job training and educational programs help raise the victim's self-esteem and shatter the idea that they are unable to function without the abuser. Referrals to attorneys and legal services can also be obtained by a victim in matters of divorce and child custody.
"We can't help someone that won't help themselves," explained Lisa Kleiber, Victims Advocate Investigator for the Prosecutors Office. Having attended a CODA sponsored training session, Kleiber found it incredibly helpful in working with victims who many times want their abuser's charges dropped. "It's difficult sometimes, but we always try to point out available alternatives in hopes they will take advantage of them at some point."
Whether the abuse comes from a traditional partnership, or not, victims can seek help from caring professionals. But there are rare cases where a victim could have problems in seeking assistance. A victim that is a threat to themselves, or others, due to drug usage or irrational behavior can not be placed in some programs for the safety to other victims.
"A victim is anyone that suffers abuse from an intimate partner," said CODA Executive Director Carolinn McKillip. "We try to help everyone."