By Kerry Hyatt Blomquist
Last month was “Domestic Violence Awareness Month.” Yeah, I know—it was also “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” and while I am certainly not anti-anti breast cancer, I do at times wish the DV Movement had the PR momentum that the Breast Cancer Awareness folks do—the guy that changed my oil last month was in a pink jumpsuit for Lord’s sake.
Anyway… good things—great things—are happening in Indiana in the ongoing fight against Intimate Partner Violence. The Indiana Supreme Court recently announced that a quarter of a million dollar grant received from the US Department of Justice will be funneled into updates and modifications to Indiana’s Protective Order Registry. Starting as soon as early 2011, protective order petitioners could be notified via text or email that their orders have been served or that their orders are about to expire. This is so important because the most dangerous time for any victim of violence is when they do try to finally escape that violence. Knowing exactly when their abuser is notified is critical to their safety planning.
Another change coming down the pike: Protection Order forms will soon be available in Spanish, which of course will make the system more accessible to Spanish speaking survivors. This is an equal access to justice move that is long overdue and impossible to disagree with.
And finally, the Protective Order Registry will be accessible to advocates and other members of the public, which will allow advocates to continue to help survivors get the Orders for Protection designed to keep them safe. Best of all, those advocates can provide other resources and services to survivors at that time, be it safety planning, shelter options or counseling. And those same advocates can explain fully what can and (as importantly) CANNOT be done with a Protective Order, keeping abuse of process cases in check.
The Indiana Supreme Court and JTAC have been amazingly proactive and forward thinking in their commitment to the development of Indiana’s Protective Order Registry. This is great news for those of us on the front lines in the fight against domestic and intimate partner violence in Indiana. Next on the agenda—purple jumpsuits at Jiffy Lube next October. •
Blomquist is Legal Director for the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Co-Chair of the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Legislative Committee.