Thursday night at the Knights of St. John, New Directions hosted a wine and cheese tasting before a presentation illustrating and describing the very real problem of domestic abuse in Decatur County.
Perhaps the most telling figure is that prior to 2010 and Diane Moore’s establishment as executive director, New Directions helped, at most, 30 people each year.
Once New Directions expanded from being a shelter to adding other services, 2012 saw a jump to 318 victims of domestic abuse helped in some capacity.
Moore told the Daily News that she hoped to spread awareness about what the agency does, as well as information about violence and abuse. This year was the first year for the wine tasting event.
She also wanted to thank councilor Carole Burr and victim’s advocate Brandy Taylor for working far longer than the hours for which they are actually paid.
Board member Marilyn Davis and committee members RoJeanna Pank, Regina Lowe, Pam Meyer, and Eva Westhafer also play key roles in keeping New Directions running and functioning, said Moore.
Moore opened the presentation by defining domestic abuse as “willful intimidation,” and explained that not all abuse is physical. Abuse can involve isolating the victim, monetary and emotional abuse, and nearly all instances involve the abuser exercising intense control over the victim.
“We’ve had clients come to us with all these kinds of abuse,” said Moore.
In the state of Indiana, there were 64 known deaths as a result of domestic abuse in 2012. In Decatur County, there are one to two emergency phone calls involving domestic abuse per day.
During the presentation, Moore read the testimonies of many victims who had been helped by New Directions. Most of the stories were about couples who had been together for many years.
One woman’s husband began stalking her obsessively. She found hidden GPS tracking on her and her husband’s cars, hidden cameras all over their house, and a hidden room in the attic filled with surveillance cameras and pornography.
Another woman had endured years of abuse from her husband. The abuse came to a head when she took her daughter and her daughter’s friend on vacation. Several days into the vacation, the abuser appeared unannounced, and proceeded to beat his wife nearly to death in the presence of the two girls.
In another case, a woman had begun dating a man, and for several dates everything appeared to be normal. The normalcy continued until one night while driving, when he began a seven hour rampage raping her and beating her. He then tied her up and threw her into his trunk.
He then proceeded to drive to his friends’ homes and display her declaring how he was “teaching her a lesson.” One friend finally called the police.
The man was arrested and spent several months in jail, but the victim would suffer attacks and threats from her assailant’s family. She feared for her life, and sought help from New Directions to escape.
These where three of nearly 10 accounts of abuse and how New Directions had helped in each case. There had been many more accounts, Moore said, but the New Directions staff could only choose a handful.
Women between the ages of 16 and 24 are the most likely demographic to be physically abused. Pregnant women also have a high likelihood of being abused because “She wasn’t supposed to get pregnant,” or the male doesn’t believe the child is his.
People between the ages of 35 and 49 are the mostly to be killed.
Moore explained that people in this age group are more likely to be killed by their abusers because they have likely spent their entire relationship being abused, but waiting for their children to become adults before announcing the want for a divorce or separation.
“The abuser snaps,” said Moore.
One in four women are abused yearly, and one in three teens are abused annually as well.
“We all know someone who has been abused,” said Moore. “You may not realize it, but I guarantee it.”
Victims stay for a number of reasons, Moore said. She added that “Why do the victims stay?” is the question she is asked the most.
Victims stay because of fear, finances, pressure from friends and family, the belief that their abuser will change because of an apology, religion, self blame and having been isolated from help and people that care.
Victims stay because their abuser has threatened to kill the victim’s children, or possibly commit suicide.
“Leaving is a process,” Moore told her audience. “Not an event.”
The victim has to plan to leave and secure themselves financially, and have a plan of where the victim will stay.
Three million people in the United States live in abusive households. Boys living in an abusive household are twice as likely to abuse their spouse.
Children as young as two-years-old emulate abusive behavior by acting out toward others.
“But there is hope in New Directions,” said Moore.
New Directions now offers some monetary assistance, help filing legal paperwork, counseling, and many other services. New Directions has also been running a monthly radio show, and has reached out to 747 teenagers by raising awareness of potential abuse in teenage dating.
Moore said people can help by giving money which will help fund emergencies, counseling, expand teen education and staffing needs.
She explained that New Directions’ councilors are not properly paid for their work, but Carole Burr, Brandy Taylor and other volunteers never once said no to helping someone in need, “It was really bad over the 2012 summer.”
After the presentation, Mayor Gary Herbert offered support for New Directions’ purpose.
“It’s a good cause,” said Mayor Herbert, “It helps people in despair, and the city will give to it.”
New Directions can be contacted at 812-662-8822, and is located at 108 S Broadway St, Greensburg.
New Directions is available 24/7, and all holidays.
Contact: Tess Rowing 812-663-3111 x7004