Criminal Justice

House To Focus On Domestic Violence Issues, Charity In 2015 Session

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November 19, 2014 — TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – The legislature will take a look at laws about domestic violence and funding dedicated to help victims as part of an effort by the Indiana House to raise awareness about the problem.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, announced Tuesday that the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence will be the chamber’s designated charity, meaning members will spend the next year raising awareness, money and goods for local shelters.

Already on Tuesday, lawmakers and their staffs had amassed a pile of household goods, school supplies and other items to be distributed. And Bosma said more would be forthcoming.

Laura Berry, executive director of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said the group is “deeply, deeply honored” to be selected as the designated charity.

Domestic violence “statistics are alarming,” she said. “Even more alarming, we turned 1,700 women away last year, men and children, because we didn’t have space in our facilities and we need to make that different.”

Bosma said he plans to go beyond simply raising awareness about domestic violence. The speaker said he’ll also sit down with the coalition’s leaders to discuss whether changes in state law would help victims. And he said officials will review whether current funding for the programs – which increased by about $2 million over the past two years – is enough and has been used effectively.

“We’re talking about the funding needs of the domestic violence folks and what we need to do to assist them in meeting their goals,” Bosma said. “We’re going to look at a variety of things from a couple different directions.”

Curtis McManus, who grew up in a violent home and is now a board member for the Julian Center in Indianapolis, said shelters do the kind of work that’s necessary to break a cycle of abuse. He quoted the Tina Turner song “What’s love got to do with it” as he described how the groups approach women and children affected by violence.

“Thank you Tina Turner,” McManus said, before turning to House leaders. “And Speaker Bosma,” he added quickly.

Domestic violence issues have been in the news nationally since NFL star Ray Rice was caught on tape punching his then-fiancé and dragging her out of a hotel elevator. And the issue has been controversial in Indiana as well after Berry raised questions about the way the administration of Gov. Mike Pence was distributing money allocated for domestic violence programs by the General Assembly.

Berry said those issues have been resolved and the money has been distributed to groups that need it. But she said more action may be necessary. Berry said the state needs to ensure that existing laws are being appropriately implemented to help victims when they call law enforcement for help and that “there are the necessary resources available when they finally make that phone call.”

[Photo: Rep. Holli Sullivan, R-Evansville, helps collect household supplies that will be distributed to victims of domestic violence. House leaders announced Tuesday that the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence will be the chamber’s designated charity for 2015.  TheStatehouseFile.com]

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