Law enforcement using form to help domestic violence victims as Hamilton County still push for a shelter

As domestic violence awareness month comes to a close one, organization wants to highlight the strides they've made over the past year. Prevail Inc. in Noblesville partnered with Hamilton County law enforcement  and now officers do lethality assessments anytime they respond to a domestic violence call.

It's been nearly a year since Hamilton County law enforcement officers have been armed with the form, which has 11 questions to decide a domestic violence victim's risk of future violence.

"Has the perpetrator ever used a weapon again you? Have they threatened to hurt you or do you believe they will hurt you?Research shows that those situations are at a higher risk for either being violent in the future or potentially lethal," said Susan Ferguson, executive director for Prevail Inc.

From January to June, officers gave more than 60 assessments and 21 of those cases were high risk.

"The police would then call an advocate so that we can talk with that victim on the phone right away. So we want to connect them with services immediately rather than just handing them a card and saying hey call prevail tomorrow," Ferguson said.

Ferguson says the assessments are working. But still, they're having to send clients who need shelter to Alternatives in Anderson because there's no shelter in Hamilton County. Ferguson says the work continues to get victims shelter in Hamilton County, a place many people may not think has a strong need for it.

"I think my only answer to people who think that it doesn't happen in Hamilton County or in affluent communities is bottom line it does. We're working to prevent that but it still happens here and we need to be able to provide services to people who need them," Ferguson said.

Of the assessments given from January to June, 48 victims were women and 13 were men.

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