Gary Crusader staff report
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson on Monday, May 16, held a press conference at City Hall to launch Gary’s Domestic Violence Awareness Campaign, hoping to educate individuals on the growing number of violence cases committed in the home.
During the campaign, the city will work with the National Initiative, Gary for Life and the Gary Police Department.
Freeman-Wilson said the realities of domestic violence “really hit home” after the body of 22-year-old Diamond Lewis, of Merrillville, was found recently in an abandoned home in Gary. Her ex-boyfriend has been charged with murder.
“This is something we have been thoughtful about and this is something that we are prepared to act on a consistent basis,” she said. “We’re trying to not only highlightbut eradicate domestic violence in the city of Gary.”
Gary’s chief of police, Larry McKinley, said there has been an increase in domestic violence cases throughout Gary in 2016. In 2015, there were 2,261 domestic violence calls to the Gary Police Department, according to Gary Police Department’s crime analysis unit. So far this year, there has been 1,327 domestic violence calls.
Gary is not alone in fighting domestic violence. Nationally, domestic violence cases are on the rise on college campuses and major cities. Cases involving professional athletes and celebrities have thrust domestic violence into the national spotlight.
Domestic violence can range from spousal abuse, to child abuse to elderly abuse. In Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging said nearly 800 cases of elder abuse were reported last year in the Philadelphia suburb of Chester County — a 35 percent jump over the previous year, the county said Friday.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, every 9 seconds in the U.S., a woman is assaulted or beaten. On average, an intimate partner in the U.S physically abuses nearly 20 people per minute. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
Monday’s conference in Gary discussed the awareness campaign and programs available to citizens. Gary Police Officials and representatives from Family Service agencies joined the Mayor in the Press Conference.
To kick off the campaign, the community is asked to support the “Fill A Purse” effort through donations of new or gently used women’s handbags or knapsacks filled with toiletries. The bags will be distributed to victims of domestic violence who often have to flee, leaving personal items behind. Donations of full or travel size toiletries for both men and women are greatly needed.
Citizens are encouraged to look for the PURPLE donation boxes located at City Hall, 401 Broadway, the Public Safety Building, 555 Polk Street and the Gary Commission for Women, 839 Broadway to drop off items. All are urged to help reduce domestic violence in the City of Gary. “It Could Happen to Anyone.”
The Domestic Violence Campaign will run from the month of May through October, where a number of events are planned. The Fill A Purse initiative will run from May 16, 2016 to June 15, 2016.