Breaking the silence about domestic violence
The first time Elena Love’s boyfriend hit her, she didn’t tell anyone.
The second time, she covered her bruises and began to withdraw from the relationship, she said.
It wasn’t until the third time — when he pulled a knife on her — that she went to police, she said.
Love, of Gary, sang and performed spoken word poetry Sunday to help Delta Sigma Theta Sorority kick off a week of events to raise awareness about domestic violence.
October is domestic violence awareness month.
On average, a domestic violence survivor makes seven attempts before leaving an abuser for good, said Roxanne Morton, director of the Rainbow Shelter in Gary.
Women don’t leave for a variety of reasons, she said. They may think they can’t make it on their own, there may be children involved or their abuser may have isolated them so much they feel they don’t have anywhere to go.
From July 2013 to June 2014, 67 women in Indiana died as a result of domestic violence, she said. Five of them lived in Lake County.
During the same time period, Indiana domestic violence shelters received 63,761 crisis calls and served more than 26,000 people, she said. Of those served, 16,855 were women, 1,186 were men and 8,197 were children.
Domestic violence goes beyond physical abuse, Morton said. The other four types of abuse include verbal, emotional, sexual and financial abuse, she said.
Domestic violence occurs in intimate relationships, but also can occur in families, Morton said.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, a member of the sorority, said police are often to first point of contact for domestic violence victims.
“It’s a very difficult situation for police, because it’s a volatile situation,” Freeman-Wilson said. “But they respond. They do it without any note or any commendation on a daily basis.”
Sorority members hung purple ribbons on the front doors of the Gary Public Safety Facility on Sunday to symbolize that police are there to help.
Love, a writer, performance poet and singer, said she didn’t live alone for a year after her abuse. She found peace, strength and healing in God, she said.
She now finds writing and performing pieces about her experience to be therapeutic and hopes to raise awareness, she said.
Anyone who thinks a loved one might be a victim of abuse should not urge the person to leave the relationship, Morton said. That could push a victim closer to an abuser, she said.
Instead, let the person know you’re there for them and be a good listener, Morton said.
Rainbow Shelter and several domestic violence shelters in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties operate 24/7 crisis lines for people in need of help, she said.
The sorority is planning a vigil at 4:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 401 Broadway. A domestic violence workshop from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the YWCA, 150 W. 15th Ave., will include speakers, information, testimonies and more.