Attitudes toward reporting domestic violence gradually changing

Experts say more people intervening

INDIANAPOLIS - Experts find that neighbors, strangers and other witnesses to domestic violence are becoming less hesitant to get involved and call for help.

"It used to be, 'Don't ask, don't tell, mind your own business, it's a private affair,'" said Det. Sgt. Lawana Roney, with IMPD's domestic violence unit. "But I've seen a big trend within the past 10 years of people stepping out and saying, 'This is not right.'"

Roney believes the change is due to more awareness about domestic violence and abuse and teaching children at a younger age that domestic violence is not acceptable.

"We've had neighbors who've called in, even when the victim hasn't called in, the neighbors have been the ones who've said, 'I will come to court and testify,'" Roney said.

Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Kramer said by-standers who intervene in domestic abuse can play an important role in the court room.

"That person can be an essential witness for the prosecution and can be the difference between winning and losing a case," Kramer said.

Roney said in cases of potential abuse, it's better to be safe than sorry.

"If it turns out to be nothing, a misunderstanding or whatever, that's fine. But on that one chance, you might save somebody's life," she said.

One survivor of domestic violence, who was nearly killed by her ex-fiance, told RTV6 that her neighbor saved her life.

"A stranger, a neighbor, I didn't know who he was, I've never talked to him, (he) saw that something was happening and immediately called the police," she said. "And had he not stepped in, and had the police not come when they had, he definitely would have killed me."

Detectives and prosecutors at the Domestic Violence Unit say it's critical that people step in and stop the cycle of violence, because kids who grow up in that environment are much more likely to become abusers or be abused as adults.

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