Many Hoosiers face violence in their own homes and live in fear – often in silence – because of an abusive relationship. In fact, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence at some point in their lives.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and a new law in Indiana is working to better protect domestic violence victims who obtain protective and no-contact orders. In the past, these orders were not always followed and that’s in part because of the relatively low penalty for violating them. This year, state lawmakers increased the penalty from a misdemeanor to a Level 6 felony carrying a fine of up to $10,000 and prison time. Not only is this a stronger deterrent for criminals disobeying court orders, but it also gives law enforcement additional tools to keep Hoosiers safe and get abusers off the streets.

This enhancement is backed by public safety officers, including Evansville Sgt. Matt Karges (pictured center), who testified at the Statehouse in support of the legislation. He recently joined State Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville) (pictured right), chair of the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee and sponsor of the law, for a ceremonial bill signing. Other House sponsors of Senate Enrolled Act 79, which passed unanimously, include State Reps. Sharon Negele (R-Attica) and Mike Speedy (R- Indianapolis).

Domestic violence affects Hoosiers across the state, regardless of race, income, age or occupation. No person deserves to be physically or emotionally harmed, and help is available. To report an abusive relationship or find help, call the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence hotline at 800-332-7385. Resources and support are also available at icadvinc.org.