It is not easy for survivors of domestic abuse to speak out and share their story; all too often survivors feel a tremendous social pressure to remain silent about their experiences. Abuse thrives on this silence — thus the utmost respect, and gratitude, should be given to the unnamed author of NUVO’s article “The Dark Side of Intimacy” (Cover, Jan. 30-Feb. 6).
Leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for victims. In fact, 75 percent of domestic violence homicides occur when the victim is leaving or has left the abusive relationship. Breaking free of abuse, therefore, is extremely complicated, and the question of “Why doesn’t she leave?” becomes laughably simplistic. Survivors, and those who love them, must take careful and strategic steps to plan their escape.
Indianapolis has a large network of services designed to act as a safety net, and a guide, for survivors of abuse as they flee abuse. This network consists of shelters, advocates and the judicial system, amongst others. The author of “The Dark Side of Intimacy” takes on the daunting task of navigating these systems and then evaluates them based off of her experience. Her experience, in particular with the justice system, is both regrettable and unacceptable.
It should be said that the use of the justice system, and in particular relevance to this article, protective orders, is one tool in a large tool kit of available resources in Marion County for survivors of abuse. Abuse takes on many forms and many faces — there is no one solution to help someone break free. Many individuals legitimately fear provoking further abuse by filing a protective order, for example, while others find it to be a very useful tool to either keep the abuser away, or to create a paper trail in case of further abuse.
It is no secret that historically the justice system has been either unhelpful or, at worst, discriminatory to domestic violence victims. It is only in the last 40 years that our nation began to respond in ways that treated domestic abuse as a crime. While there is always work to be done, the systemic response to domestic abuse has made tremendous progress.
Gwen Frisbie-FultonDomestic Violence Network of Greater Indianapolis, INC