Mothers Of Lost Children – Indiana

Support for Noncustodial Indiana Moms

Leaving Domestic Abuse Can Be Hazardous for Mothers in Indiana

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This is on indy.com, but you can’t leave comments on this unfortunately.  I definitely have a few things to say about it.

Women in Indiana, especially in Marion County, need to fear leaving.  This is because if they try and stop the abuse or try and leave it, their abuser has a very good chance of getting custody of their children here.  The family law courts in Marion County and the rest of the state look upon domestic violence as a joke, and often will punish a mother who has valid claims of abuse.  They will even acknowledge the abuse, and still punish her by taking the children.

Several other states have recognized this problem in their own backyards and have been enacting protective parents legislation, where a parent who reports abuse cannot be punished for it by having custody taken from them.  The American Bar Association and the American Psychological Association have recognized that abusive fathers seek sole custody twice as often, and 70% of the time they receive it.  Marion County is most likely at the 100% level, as I can’t remember how long it has been since I’ve seen a mother get custody.  We do see a lot of noncustodial moms in our organization, and they all have the horrifying coincidence of abuse as a background.

So sure, get away from the abuse.  But be aware, it will not end if you have children with your abuser.  If he wants to continue to hurt you, the courts of Marion County will be happy to help him.  He will hunt you down and pursue every trick in court to take the children, and the judges will happily give them to him.

Leaving isn’t so easy

indystar

January 25, 2010 by the indystar staff

Why don’t they just leave?

It is the question that puzzles many of us when we hear about the tragic conclusion of a violent domestic relationship. Why doesn’t the victim simply look in the mirror, decide it is time for a change and head out the door?

Perhaps, though, it is we who need to look in the mirror. Is our community doing enough to make sure that door is not barred shut?

Consider the local mother who had escaped an abusive relationship with her child and job intact. But her daughter had a condition that required significant medical care, and the mother, like so many other Hoosiers, had no health insurance to cover it. She weighed her options and decided to return to her abusive husband, who at least had insurance to cover her child’s care.

Fortunately, as the story is told by Julie Marsh, chief executive officer of the Domestic Violence Network of Greater Indianapolis, this woman found help from some of the many angels in Central Indiana who respond to the alarm bells of domestic violence. This mother was spared her horrible choice, but there are many others who do not see an option.

“Victims often don’t leave because they have no job, no money, no place to live,” Marsh says. “Health insurance, food on the table, knowing what to expect financially — all of these are reasons why victims too often stay with the perpetrator.”

In Central Indiana, abuse survivors struggle in particular with child care and transportation to work, keys to self-sufficiency away from the dangerous relationship. Voting against taxes seems like such a no-brainer until we consider that we are voting against the survival of those who need a better bus system to get to a job and against the healthy development of kids who need stable care when their parents must work.

Predictably, the economic downturn has made it worse on those in the most precarious situations. Protective order requests in Marion County increased 20 percent last year, reflecting a national trend as financial pressures ratchet up the tension in dysfunctional relationships and women despair of finding viable exit strategies. Stays at domestic violence shelters have lengthened, as survivors have more trouble finding a job and affording permanent housing.

There are positive developments. Julian Center and Coburn Place are among the programs that are increasing the stock of transitional and permanent housing to supplement emergency shelter space. The City-County Council last year created a domestic violence fatality review team, so we can learn how to prevent tragedies.

And, reflecting one of the top goals of the community’s Peace in Our Homes Plan, youth education about domestic violence is expanding. Washington Township middle-school students are learning about healthy relationships through the Safe Dates curriculum, a program Marsh and other advocates hope will become widely available.

“There is still so much to do,” Marsh says. “When you take this down to the nth degree, saving lives is what this is all about.”

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