By Kendall Downing
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Domestic violence advocates lit candles Tuesday night in memory of domestic violence victims across Indiana. Last year, 67 people died as a result of domestic violence in Indiana. Twenty of those cases were in central Indiana.
Of course, the issue is taking center stage since the controversy surrounding the NFL and Ray Rice.
Domestic violence advocates in central Indiana call the added attention bittersweet, a good thing that so many people are talking about domestic violence and how to stop it, a bad thing that we even have to have the conversation in the first place.
Tuesday night, the flames pierced the darkness of Broadway United Methodist Church.
The Domestic Violence Network holds the candlelight vigil each year, but now there's an added focus.
"We're seeing more calls for not just victims who want to get help but also from people asking about what policies and procedures, how can we get help with those," said Kelly McBride, Executive Director of Domestic Violence Network.
McBride said calls are up 77% to shelters in town. The attention, she said, is partially a result of the NFL scandal. But it also comes from our society, one that is more willing to talk about abuse.
"When you're in an abusive relationship, it's always your fault. And you're made to think that everything that went wrong is something you did wrong," said Shary Kiggins, a domestic violence survivor.
Kiggins separated from her husband ten years ago because of emotional abuse. She talked about it Tuesday night to inspire others.
"It's horrible that we have so many situations that we have to talk about. I don't like that at all, but it's also a good thing that it's bringing attention to the subject, and hopefully more people will get help," she said.
The violence hits closer to home than you'd realize. In April, IMPD officer Kim Carmack died at the hands of her ex-husband, a fellow IMPD officer who shot her before killing himself. And in May, two women, 30-year-old Inity Morrow and her 84-year-old grandmother, Julia Morrow, were shot by a man Inity had been seeing.
"Not only is this dangerous for those individuals involved in domestic violence, but one of the most dangerous runs a police officer will make is into a home where domestic violence is occurring," said Troy Riggs, Public Safety Director.
Riggs said domestic violence poses safety risks for a whole community, and it's up to that same community to find ways to stop it. He said the city is working to look at data, to understand what's happening before and after domestic violence arrests to see if there are policies that need to change.
Part of the community-wide plan for the Domestic Violence Network includes schools, with awareness campaigns targeted at teen dating violence.