Tragedy puts domestic violence in the spotlight

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A turbulent relationship ended in tragedy Thursday, after two IMPD officers were killed in a murder-suicide. Now, domestic violence advocates are working to raise awareness about what many call an “epidemic.”

In 2012, there were more than 17,000 crisis calls reporting domestic violence in Central Indiana. Domestic violence expert Kelly McBride says domestic violence affects 1 in 5 people.

“It touches everyone. It’s going to take a whole community to end domestic violence. Everyone has a role to play,” said McBride.

McBride said the early signs of a violent relationship are excessive texts and phone calls, a whirlwind romance and isolation from family and friends. McBride points out that the problem of abuse can reach everyone—male or female.

“As last night’s incidents show us, the entire community is affected. IMPD lost two officers. Their family and friends are touched,” said McBride.

This incident is also hitting home with victims of domestic violence. Crisis agencies are pointing out that this problem reaches everyone, even the officers who are meant to protect the city.

Victims and experts say protective orders can be a huge help in stopping an abusive relationship, but they also warn to be careful when using them. As made evident in Thursday night’s shooting, sometimes protective orders just aren’t enough to protect a victim.

McBride says sometimes a protective order can actually trigger a violent partner. She recommends talking to an advocate through a crisis agency and deciding together if an order will help or hurt your situation. McBride also says careful enforcement of the order is key, in order to protect a victim.

“If they violate the protective order, and there’s not swift action from the police and from the courts and from the community then the protective order is essentially useless,” said McBride.

McBride says if you suspect your friend or family member is involved in a dangerous relationship, you should continue to be patient. She recommends keeping the lines of communications open, because even if they’re not asking for help right now, they will eventually realize they’re in trouble.

Hannah Hendricks is thankful she realized she was in trouble before it was too late.

“It honestly feels like I’m telling someone else’s story,” she said, looking back at her abusive history.

Hannah Hendricks’ story is one of survival. But Thursday’s tragedy is one of many that make her thankful she escaped.

“I could have ended up there just like any of these women,” said Hendricks.

Hendricks says she broke down when she read the news, that two IMPD officers were dead, after their violent relationship reached a boiling point. To her, the story hit home. She married a man when she was 19 years old,  just nine months after meeting him.

“I was young, I thought this man loved me. And all of the sudden I’m basically sleeping with the enemy,” she said of her past relationship.

Hendricks realized she was in a bad situation when he started isolating her from her family. Eventually she was able to find help and strength in her family, who helped her break away. Now, she works with the Julian Center to help others get out before it’s too late. Because the problem is bigger than most people think.

“Domestic violence effects 1 in 5 people. The entire community is affected. IMPD lost two officers. Their family and friends are touched,” said McBride.

In light of this most recent tragedy, she says it’s time to talk about abuse.

“They think it’s a problem to be dealt with behind closed doors, and it’s not. It bleeds out into our community and we have to say enough is enough,” said McBride.

Because, as proven by this most recent incident, the violence can even reach our protectors.

“People look at me and say you’re not the face of domestic violence. There’s no way that was you. You’re strong, you’re independent. They just don’t get it,” said Hendricks.

Hendricks hopes victims see her strength, and use it to find their own.

“You’re stronger than you think and there is life outside of it,” said Hendricks.

If you need help getting out of a violent relationship, you can reach out by calling 211 or one of the agencies listed below:

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