Lakeshore News Tonight

Domestic Violence Is Ageless Problem

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October 10, 2013 — Their mission is to look out for one another and their families.  So for the month of October, the Northwest Indiana Chapter of the National Hook-Up of Black Women focused on a topic people do not always speak about, domestic violence.

“I would say senior citizens are probably the highest as far as non-reporting.  Why, I don’t know.  They do have studies on it.  It does happen, but it’s not reported,” said Jeremy Kalvaitis, a detective with the Lake County Sheriff’s Department in the Family and Domestic Services Division.

Laura Smith-Wynn is president emeritus of the group.  She started the local chapter in 2007.  She said the women, many who are grandmothers, are affected by domestic violence personally.

“We assume that domestic violence does not reach older people, but in essence it does, so what better way to address that particular issue than to bring it out in the community?,” said Smith-Wynn.

Det. Kalvaitis, who was joined by Det. Traci Harbin at yesterday’s presentation, focused on how domestic violence starts and manifests throughout families.  Though incidents of seniors being battered are not often reported, Harbin said seniors experience financial exploitation most of the time.  Kalvaitis adds that more physical incidents could get reported, but Indiana’s definition of domestic violence is different.

“‘Angry, insolent or unwanted touch by someone who is living as if or was a spouse, or has a child with the perpetrator.’  In Illinois, the definition is, ‘battery by anybody of blood or marriage or having a child in common,’ so family fights count as domestic violence,” said Det. Kalvaitis.

Statistics show that 95% of reported domestic violence cases involve men.  Harbin said the violence leads to serious injuries, high medical expenses or fatalities.

“From July 1, 2012 to July 30, 2013, 58 people died in the state of Indiana as a result of domestic violence.  Four of those deaths were in Lake County,” said Det. Harbin.

Common excuses to abuse include illness, alcohol, stress and anger.  Sometimes abusers claim it’s genetic.

“Battery is a learned behavior from families, school, peers, sports and the media,” said Det. Harbin.

Signs of domestic violence include a history of abuse in prior relationships, controlling behavior, jealousy, cruelty to animals and children, intimidating and unrealistic expectations.  Women fear leaving the relationship due to humiliation, being financially dependent and fear for the children.  But that is exactly why Kalvaitis said the abuse should come to an end.

“Suicidal ideation.  Basically they set up a suicide plan.  Depression.  Self mutilation is one that we’ve seen that’s on the rise.  Cutters,” Kalvaitis said.

There is hope.  70% of abused women end their domestic violence relationships.  The police encouraged members to be aware and to encourage someone they believe might be a victim of domestic violence to talk.

By: Renetta DuBose

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