A MESSAGE FROM CURTIS HILL ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

No one deserves to be abused; yet in 2013 Victim Assistance Advocates had over 1,200 contacts with victims of domestic violence and over 900 contacts with victims of stalking, harassment or intimidation. Many people in our county suffer silently from not only physical, but also verbal, emotional and sexual abuse in their homes; and this is unacceptable. In the state of Indiana victims have legal rights, and from initial contact through criminal sentencing, our office offers many services to assist victims in exercising their rights. 

What We Do

The Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office has an entire division devoted to victim assistance, and they play a vital role in providing assistance and resources to victims of domestic violence. The Victim Assistance Division serves as a liaison between the Prosecutor’s Office and local law enforcement agencies, providing case updates and information. Victim Advocates are professionals, many with degrees in criminal justice or mental health, and they receive specialized training on working with victims of crime. 

Domestic violence victims come to our office many ways. Advocates send out Victim Impact Statements when prosecutors file charges, police responding to domestic calls hand out contact cards, and some people contact our office directly. Every week advocates walk numerous individuals through the process of filing protective orders. Our office runs the “Change Your Locks, Change Your Life” program, and offers a voluntary support group with childcare for women who are victims of domestic violence and abuse. 

When most people think of the work of a prosecutor’s office, they think of the Trial Division. The Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office has a deputy prosecuting attorney assigned to handle all felony domestic violence cases. Through the STOP Violence Against Women grant, our deputy prosecutor receives additional annual training on improving law enforcement and prosecutor responses to violent crimes against women. Prosecutors work closely with advocates as victims navigate the legal system, some for the first time. 

Abuse ends when abusers stop abusing. As part of an effort to offer comprehensive solutions, offenders with pending charges or domestic battery convictions are often ordered to attend Batterers’ Intervention. This class includes topic like how to deal with and express anger. The goal of treatment is holding a batterer accountable and responsible for their actions. The Court also frequently orders addiction assessments when alcohol or drugs were present during an abusive situation to help connect offenders with appropriate substance abuse resources.  

Get Involved

Of course domestic violence isn’t a problem that can be solved solely by the criminal justice system; people’s lives are changed through relationships and community. Acts of domestic violence frequently go unreported to law enforcement, and it can be emotionally draining to watch a friend suffer. If you are concerned a loved one is a victim of domestic violence, let them know that no one deserves this treatment, and you are willing to guide them to resources when they are ready. If you want to educate yourself about domestic violence and cycles of abuse, information is available through our Domestic Violence Resources page. 

Our Victim Assistance Division provides referrals to may great local organizations which help victims cope with the effects of crime. Many of these organizations like Church and Community Services, Elkhart County Women’s Shelter, and Child and Parent Services are supported by donations and volunteer time. If you feel strongly about this cause, don’t just talk about it, volunteer! Contact information for many local organizations can be found on the Victim Assistance Resources page of our website. 

Upcoming Event

On Sunday, February 23rd I will be joining State Representative Rebecca Kubacki on WNIT’s Politically Speaking show. Tune in at 2:00 PM to hear us discuss domestic violence issues and more about what the Elkhart County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office does to assist victims.