Domestic abuse victims can seek support at Family Justice Center

Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 6:34 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The Family Justice Center wants to remind the community about the resources the non-profit agency offers after the recent murder-suicides of two married couples in South Bend that happened less than a week apart.

“In every zip code and every neighborhood, there are families that are experiencing domestic violence,” said Amy Stewart Brown, executive director of Family Justice Center.

Stewart Brown reiterated the rights that domestic violence victims have, including the right to request a police report; the right to speak with a county prosecutor’s office; and the right to an advocate.

“That advocate will be their liaison during a criminal proceeding. Whether or not...they move [with] forward charges or not, that person still has the right to speak with an advocate,” Stewart Brown said.

Family Justice Center offers 24/7 support via its hotline: 574-289-HELP.

Survivors can contact the number for emotional support or to receive guidance about leaving an abusive partner or family member.

“By virtue of calling the Family Justice Center, you’re, you’re accessing our confidential resources. So anything that you say will be kept, will be kept confidential here, and we can help you safely plan,” she said.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is not just physical assault,” said Stewart Brown. “Emotional abuse, psychological abuse, sex, sexual abuse, financial abuse, all of that is domestic violence.”

Stewart Brown said the core of domestic violence is power and control.

“So if your partner is intimidating you or using psychological abuse to exert power over you and your relationship, that’s domestic violence. And even though it’s might not be leaving physical marks, we know that that causes trauma. And trauma has long-term effects.

“If there are children in the home, that children, of course will be experiencing the impacts of this as well. So just as we would encourage someone who’s experiencing physical violence or strangulation, we just encourage you to, when you’re ready, and when it’s a safe time to do so, to reach out to somebody that can help you.”

Call 911 if you’re in immediate danger.

Additional victims’/survivors’ rights

Per the Family Justice Center:

You have the right to have your safety considered in determining release from custody of a person accused of committing a crime against you.

You have the right to information about the criminal case involving you or the conviction, sentence, and release of a person accused of committing a crime against you.

You have the right to pursue an order of restitution and other civil remedies against the offender.

Upon request, you have the right to be notified if the person convicted of the crime against you seeks appellate review or attacks the conviction or sentence.

Landlords are required to change the locks of a unit within 24 or 48 hours of a written request from a victim-tenant who has protection from an offender.  Time frame will vary based on whether or not the offender is a resident of the property. A victim-tenant who follows the above steps will be responsible for reimbursing the landlord for the actual expense incurred by the landlord in changing the locks.

See IC § 32-31-9 for more information.

A victim of domestic violence, stalking or a sex offense who has protection against an offender may terminate their rights and obligations under a rental agreement by providing the following documents: A copy of either a civil order for protection issued or a criminal no contact order; Written safety plan from a DV service provider; Written notice of termination provided by the victim/tenant

See IC § 32-31-9 for more information.

The victim has the right to be present at court proceedings throughout the entirety of the trial; Victim has the right to be heard at any proceeding; Oral, Written, Audio or Video Statement; Victim has the right to read presentence reports; Victim has the right to be notified of any probation revocation or modification in certain circumstances.

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