YWCA Raises Awareness to End Domestic Violence

Posted October 7, 2020.

HUNTINGTON – In a proclamation signed Wednesday, the City of Huntington joined YWCA Northeast Indiana and the Huntington Domestic Violence Task Force in a commitment to ending domestic violence and supporting its victims.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month is nationally recognized in October every year, but the isolation and financial stress many have experienced due to the public health emergency of 2020 has compounded the problem, said Jennifer Rohlf, director of empowerment for YWCA Northeast Indiana.

From March to June of this year, domestic violence-related deaths in Indiana increased 86 percent, Rohlf said. She described the rise as “shocking.”

Overall, one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, according to statistics provided by YWCA Northeast Indiana.

“I think it is something that often stays undercover and people don’t openly talk about it,” Rohlf said. “For the general community that can sometimes be surprising, but it is something that many women have experienced at one time or another in their life.

Domestic violence makes both immediate and lasting impacts on victims.

For instance, children who witness violence and abuse between their parents or caretakers are more likely to participate in violent behavior as adults. In fact, it’s the strongest risk factor of perpetuating domestic violence from one generation to the next, according to YWCA Northeast Indiana.

Because it often occurs in secret, there are a number of obstacles to escaping a domestic violence situation. Raising awareness of the community resources that exist to combat it is one of the most effective ways to help individuals and families experiencing domestic violence.

“So often people stay in those situations because there are barriers that make it hard for them to leave,” Rohlf said, “and they don’t know that there are resources out there that could help them.”

Financial barriers can force an impossible decision between financial security and physical safety, or a victim may continue an abusive relationship because of ongoing child custody issues, Rohlf provided as examples. Even in the worst scenarios, help is available.

“That’s what we try to help with,” Rohlf said, “is making a safety plan and helping people think through their options and how to do that in the safest way possible.”

Anyone can become a victim of domestic violence, Rohlf notes.

YWCA Northeast Indiana provides help and support for anyone in crisis. Women, men, transgender individuals and families of all types can call a 24/7 Domestic Violence Crisis Line to get help. A crisis shelter also is available for individuals or families who need a safe place to stay.

Call (800) 441-4073 to reach the crisis line or if you are in need of safe shelter.

The YWCA also provides:

Rohlf emphasizes that these resources are always free and confidential. When needed, an advocate can come visit a person in crisis to make sure help is accessible.

These community resources are in place to provide a support system for domestic violence victims, even for individuals who just want to talk to somebody.

 “Sometimes people think, ‘Well, I’m not sure what I want to do yet, so I can’t reach out for help because I’m not sure if I want to leave,’” she said. “That’s OK. We can just talk through it and weigh out options.”

In Huntington, YWCA Northeast Indiana works alongside not-for-profit organization McKenzie’s Hope to support domestic violence victims. McKenzie’s Hope has a victim advocate on call 24/7 who can be reached at (260) 355-9082.

To learn more or make a donation, visit ywcanein.com and mckenzieshope.org.

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