ALBION — There are many reasons victims don’t report domestic violence.
Yet, the numbers of such cases are on the rise in Noble County.
The Noble County Commissioners officially declared Domestic Violence Awareness Month for the month of October in late September. In asking for the passage of the declaration, Noble County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Mowery said his office is seeing an increase in such cases.
The Noble County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, through late September, had 77 reports of domestic violence this year. In the same period in 2018, the office had 63 cases.
“We’re on an upward tick,” Mowery told the commissioners. “It’s not the trend we want to see.”
Last week, the Noble County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office decorated the Noble County Courthouse Square with signs and purple ribbons to mark October’s observance.
“If we don’t make them aware it’s a problem, they’re going to think that it doesn’t happen here,” said Teri Skinner, the victim’s advocate with the prosecutor’s office. “And it does.”
According to Mowery, domestic violence cases are problematic to prosecute because of the multiple reasons victims have to either not report the crime or refuse to cooperate with investigators:
• Disparate income. Many abusers make more money than their victims, and the threat of losing this income can be daunting.
• Child care. Victims may have concern for who will watch their children if they have to seek additional work.
• Loss of insurance. Those with medical conditions or those with young children often fear how they will get care for their children if the family’s insurance comes from the abuser.
Those concerns tie the victims with their abusers, and leave them at the mercy of those who hurt them, according to Mowery.
Some victims have grow up with domestic violence and find the dangers of such an existence simply a part of life.
“(Victims) don’t think they can be without them,” said Jodi Messer, assistant victim’s advocate. “They really need to realize their own self worth. And that’s what’s really hard.”
Mowery said overall, the category of domestic violence-related cases has been broadened to include extended family, such as brother against brother violence and adult children against parent violence.
Those additional cases carry with them stiffer penalties.
Prior to the change, a fight involving a brother against a brother could only be charged as a battery. A domestic battery charge carries with it a $50,000 initial bond. A domestic battery conviction also bans the perpetrator from firearm ownership.
“There are consequences that are significant,” Mowery said.
The effects of domestic violence are also significant. That’s why Messer asked her daughters to help create signs recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
She said she made the offer for her daughters “to know it’s not OK for them to be treated badly, and it’s not OK for them to treat others badly.”
People need to be aware that domestic violence does happen, Messer said.
“If you see something, you should say something,” she said.