Indiana Daily Student

Hundreds of domestic violence incidents reported each year in Bloomington

A Bloomington man killed himself Monday morning after allegedly attempting to kill his girlfriend. 

The couple’s children, 4 and 7 years old, lay asleep inside their home as their father lay on the porch with a single gunshot to his head.

The woman who was shot is currently paralyzed below her ribs. It is unclear whether this paralysis will be permanent.

Their neighbors told police it wasn’t unusual to hear yelling coming from the couple’s apartment.

The Bloomington Police Department received at least 404 domestic battery calls in 2017. Of those calls, at least 258 led to arrests.

This data is from the City of Bloomington’s B Clear Data Portal. BPD crime analyst Brittani Evans said this set of data is entered after each quarter and is subject to change.

She said the potential for change is underscored by the nature of domestic violence reporting. Sometimes officers go to the scene of a crime and the injuries are visible and the suspect is present, but she said the victim doesn’t want to press charges, she explained.

“Especially with these situations, people change their minds a lot,” Evans said.

She also said not all arrests lead to charges being pressed. The data provided only reflects whether an arrest was made.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reported 20 people are abused by intimate partners every minute in the United States. One in three women and one in four men experienced physical abuse at the hands of an intimate partner.

Abuse can be physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, social or economic and is often a combination of these classifications, according to Middle Way House. Warning signs can vary from withholding money to exert power over someone to making death threats.

“We know that women are more likely to die at the hands of someone they know,” said Sarah Hunt, Outreach Communications Coordinator for Middle Way House.

Middle Way House is a Bloomington-based facility providing services to people in crisis. They answered 823 calls on their crisis line in 2017. The facility is especially focused on those who have experienced domestic violence, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

The facility sheltered 281 children and 187 adults in its New Wings emergency shelter in 2017.

Though they provide shelter services, Middle Way House is more than a shelter. They offer legal advocacy from a team available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Hunt said 95 percent of people who seek legal advocacy from the team are not residents of the shelter.

“We never give people advice,” Hunt said. “We provide options.”

She said this is important because people experiencing crisis understand their situations more than advocates do. Providing options is helpful. Giving advice can be fatal.

Most people who are killed by their abusers are killed within two years of leaving them, Hunt said.

In Monroe County, everyone arrested on domestic violence charges must be kept in jail for at least 24 hours. This is known as a a cooling off period.

Hunt said this is one of the longest in the state. The mandate for Indiana as a whole is an eight-hour cooling off period.

The numbers for domestic violence in Bloomington may be higher than the data reported through B Clear. Evans said sometimes new information comes to light and crimes are reclassified as domestic.

There may have been more than 404 domestic violence calls to BPD in 2017.

Some people who experience domestic violence will never call the police, Hunt said.

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