Hamilton County lacks domestic violence shelter

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) – Domestic violence victims seeking shelter in Hamilton County have to look elsewhere.

There is a place victims can visit to get help through group therapy sessions, one-on-one counseling and safety planning, but not when it comes to finding a safe place to stay.

Inside a group therapy room at Prevail in Noblesville, a whiteboard outlines ways for domestic violence victims to fight that fear.

“Then they’ve talked about some of the tactics in order to overcome that, like asking for help,” said Susan Ferguson, executive director at Prevail, a non-profit that provides assistance and education for all types of crime victims, but mostly domestic violence/abuse and sexual assault.

Prevail is also the only place in Hamilton County where those victims can get help.

“If somebody knows that their relationship is violent, we would love to work with them and help them to design a safety plan that works for them,” she said.

But any further help, like needing the safety of a shelter, won’t be found behind Prevail’s doors.

“Unfortunately they have to travel outside their own county to find assistance,” said Jay Geshay, senior vice president of United Way Central Indiana.

The organization researched this problem and found that Hamilton County is the fourth largest county in Indiana, but the only one in the top 10 without a shelter.

If someone visits Prevail in Noblesville seeking shelter, they’re referred to Alternatives in Anderson or the Julian Center in Indianapolis. Ferguson said all that traveling can make commuting to work or getting kids to school difficult.

“It just creates more obstacles in that situation and makes it a much more difficult decision to leave a dangerous situation,” she said.

The United Way — along with other community leaders — is trying to fix that.

It wants a shelter with at least 30 beds, but Geshay said building one would $7 million and even more to maintain. Regardless of the costs, he feels a having a shelter within the county lines is imperative.

“On the average about one in four families are affected by domestic violence. That’s a staggering number and that’s a staggering amount of families in Hamilton County that are touched by this tragic issue in our society,” he said.

“We value Alternatives and what they’re able to do for us and appreciate the partnership with them that they’re able to shelter,” said Ferguson. “But it would be just one less obstacle for victims of domestic violence if the shelter is located in the county.”

Geshay and Ferguson said although the idea of a shelter has been researched for several years, it’s still deep in the planning stages. Getting a site approved for the building and getting the funding together are the two biggest hurdles they still need to overcome.

If you live in Hamilton County and are a domestic violence victim or would like to know more about the warning signs, you can call Prevail at 317-773-6942, or its 24-hour Crisis Line at 317-776-3472.

To learn more about the United Way of Central Indiana’s push to bring a shelter to Hamilton County, click here.

blog comments powered by Disqus