United States: State protection and recourse available to victims of domestic violence, particularly in the state of Indiana (2012-June 2013) [USA104447.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. Overview of Domestic Violence in the US

According to the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, domestic violence or intimate partner violence "continues to affect women across the United States" (UN 6 June 2011, para.8). The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control of the US Department of Health and Human Services also reports that intimate partner violence, sexual violence and stalking are "major problems" in the US (US 2010, 4). The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) indicates that an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of domestic violence in the US each year (NCADV n.d.). The US Congressional Research Service report notes that, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey, in 2010, there were 407,700 females and 101,530 males who reported victimization by an intimate partner (US 10 May 2012, 6). However, NCADV notes that "most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police" (n.d.).

Initially passed in 1994 and reauthorized in 2000, 2005 and 2013, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) "created the first U.S.federal legislation acknowledging domestic violence and sexual assault as crime, and provided federal resources to encourage community-coordinated responses to combating violence" (NNEDV [2013]). According to the US National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), VAWA programs are administered by the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS) (ibid.). VAWA provides federal grants for the education of judges and court personnel in state and federal courts on the laws on domestic violence, sexual assaults and other crimes against women (US 10 May 2012, 3). It also provides grants to "assist state and local governments to enter data on stalking and domestic violence into national databases" (ibid.). VAWA creates and provides support to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking, including Native women, immigrants, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) victims and youth (NNEDV [2013]). For example, VAWA allows immigrants who are survivors of abuse to apply for a U visa (ibid.). The non-immigrant U visa provides temporary legal status and work eligibility to victims and their families (US Immigration Support n.d.). The US Immigration Support organization, which provides information on immigration in the US and publishes legal books and immigration guides, explains that, in order to receive a U visa, a survivor must (1) be a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, among others, (2) be willing to cooperate with law enforcement officials in the investigation of the crime, and (3) receive a signed statement from the Federal State or local law enforcement agency certifying the survivor's cooperation (ibid.). A maximum of 10,000 U visas may be issued every fiscal year (ibid.).

According to the US Family and Youth Services Bureau, the Family Violence Prevention Services Program (FVPSP), run by the US Department of Health and Human Services, administers the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), the "primary funding stream dedicated to the support of emergency shelter and related assistance for victims of domestic violence and their children" (US n.d.). FVPSP is dedicated to providing shelters and other support services for victims and their children, coordinating improvements within social service systems and local communities, increasing public awareness, as well as supporting community-based domestic violence programs and providing grants to states, territories, tribes, national resource centers and state domestic violence coalitions (ibid.). Information on the implementation of these programs could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2. Overview of Domestic Violence in Indiana

The Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV), an NGO that advocates for the elimination of domestic violence through public awareness and the implementation of prevention programs (ICADV 7 Mar.2012, i), reports that there were 64 deaths related to domestic violence recorded between July 2011 and June 2012 (ibid. n.d.a) and 62 deaths related to domestic violence between July 2010 and June 2011 (ibid. n.d.b). The report of the UN Rapporteur indicates that, according to the Violence Policy Center, in 2008, "firearms were the most common weapon used by men to murder women [in the US], with nearly two-thirds of the women having been murdered by male intimate partners" (UN 6 June 2011, para.10). ICADV also indicates that most deaths resulting from domestic violence reported in Indiana between July 2011 and June 2012 involved firearms (1 Oct.2012). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3. State Protection in Indiana
3.1 Legislation

Domestic or family violence is defined by the Indiana Code as follows:

Sec. 42. "Domestic or family violence" means, except for an act of self defense, the occurrence of one (1) or more of the following acts committed by a family or household member:

  1. Attempting to cause, threatening to cause, or causing physical harm to another family or household member without legal justification.
  2. Placing a family or household member in fear of physical harm without legal justification.
  3. Causing a family or household member to involuntarily engage in sexual activity by force, threat of force, or duress.
  4. Beating (as described in IC 35-46-3-0.5(2)), torturing (as described in IC 35-46-3-0.5(5)), mutilating (as described in IC 35-46-3-0.5(3)), or killing a vertebrate animal without justification with the intent to threaten, intimidate, coerce, harass, or terrorize a family or household member. (Indiana 1997, para.31-9-2-42)

Domestic violence also includes "stalking" or a "sex offense," whether or not these acts are "committed by a family or household member" (ibid.).

According to the Indiana Code, "domestic battery" is defined as follows:

a) A person who knowingly or intentionally touches an individual who:

  1. is or was a spouse of the other person;
  2. is or was living as if a spouse of the other person as provided in subsection (c); or
  3. has a child in common with the other person;in a rude, insolent, or angry manner that results in bodily injury to the person described in subdivision (1), (2), or (3) commits domestic battery, a Class A misdemeanor.

b) However, the offense under subsection (a) is a Class D felony if the person who committed the offense:

    1. has a previous, unrelated conviction:

 

A. under this section (or IC 35-42-2-1(a)(2)(E) [before its repeal]); or

B. in any other jurisdiction, including a military court, in which the elements of the crime for which the conviction was entered are substantially similar to the elements described in this section; or

  1. committed the offense in the physical presence of a child less than sixteen (16) years of age, knowing that the child was present and might be able to see or hear the offense.

c) In considering whether a person is or was living as a spouse of another individual in subsection (a)(2), the court shall review:

  1. the duration of the relationship;
  2. the frequency of contact;
  3. the financial interdependence;
  4. whether the two (2) individuals are raising children together;
  5. whether the two (2) individuals have engaged in tasks directed toward maintaining a common household; and
  6. other factors the court considers relevant. (Indiana 1999, 35-42-2-1.3)

Sources indicate that in Indiana, victims of domestic or family violence may file a petition for a protection order (WomensLaw.org 1 Oct.2012; Indiana 2002, para.34-26-5-2). According to WomensLaw.org, a website founded in 2000 by a group of lawyers, teachers and advocates to help survivors of domestic violence in the US (WomensLaw.org n.d.), there are two types of protection orders in Indiana: "ex parte" orders for protection (issued without notice to the abuser and without a hearing) and "final" protection orders (issued after a hearing) (ibid. 1 Oct.2012). An ex parte order "prohibit[s] the abuser from committing, or threatening to commit, acts of domestic or family violence, stalking, or sex offenses" against a victim of domestic violence and his or her family, removes the abuser from the victim's residence and, among other things, orders him or her to stay away from the victim (ibid.). In addition to the protection provided by an ex parte order, a final order for protection prohibits the abuser from possessing firearms, makes a parenting time arrangement and orders the abuser to pay expenses, including court costs, attorney fees, medical, counselling and shelter fees, among others (ibid.). In order to apply to receive a protection order, a victim must file a petition at an Indiana state court (ibid.; Indiana 2002, para.34-26-5-3). A request for a protection order can be filed in the county where a victim lives or is staying temporarily, where the abuser lives, or where the abuse happened (WomensLaw.org 1 Oct.2012). The website of the US Department of Health and Human Services indicates that an application for a protection order can be found at courthouses, some police stations, women's shelters and lawyers' offices (US 18 May 2011b).

The report of the UN Rapporteur indicates that "in relation to criminal trials, statistics reveal that alleged abusers are rarely prosecuted with a serious offence in domestic violence cases" (UN 6 June 2011, para.16). The report further notes that

although every state now defines domestic violence as a crime, it is still not investigated or prosecuted with the same seriousness as other violent crimes. Furthermore, the police often fail to respond to reports of IPV and/or violations of protection orders, and when they do respond, they do so inappropriately. It is reportedly not uncommon for police officers to encourage informal resolution between the parties instead of arresting perpetrators. This is coupled by a failure to conduct adequate investigations including not enquiring about the presence of firearms, not taking photographs despite visible injuries of victims, and/or not enquiring about perpetrators history of abuse. (ibid., para.15)

Further information on the effectiveness of state protection in Indiana could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3.2 Support Services
3.2.1 Shelters

Sources provide information on a number of shelters in Indiana:

The Center for Women and Families in Sellersburg provides an emergency shelter for battered women and their children, long-term transition housing, counselling, legal and medical assistance (Clark County n.d.);

The Individuals and Families in Transition (IFIT) program in Elkhart runs a shelter for women and children victims of domestic violence, provides transitional housing and individual and family counselling (IFIT n.d.);

The Family Crisis Shelter in Crawfordville provides emergency housing and support services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault (Family Crisis Shelter n.d.a).

The website of the ICADV maintains a list of shelters and organizations, including their phone numbers and addresses, which provide services to victims of domestic violence in different regions of Indiana (7 Mar.2012). The list is attached to this Response.

3.2.2 Hotlines

The website of the US Department of Health and Human Services Office indicates that the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline (NTDAH) and the National Sexual Assault Hotline (NSAH) are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (US 18 May 2011c). Sources indicate that NDVH offers services in more than 170 languages and provides help to victims of domestic violence in finding shelters and help services in their area (ibid.; NDVH n.d.). According to the website of the NDVH, the hotline provides access to more than 4,000 shelters and domestic violence programs across the country (ibid.). NTDAH offers a live online chat from 5:00 pm to 3:00 am (US 18 May 2011c). NSAH offers services in English and Spanish (ibid.).

The Center for Women and Families in Sellersburg, Indiana, has a 24-hour crisis line (Clark County n.d.). The Family Crisis Shelter also has a local hotline (Family Crisis Shelter n.d.b). The website of the ICADV lists hotlines and crisis phone numbers of shelters and programs across the state of Indiana (ICADV 7 Mar.2012).

3.2.3 Other Services

A project of the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health lists two organizations that provide assistance to women victims of abuse: the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) and the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault (INCASA) (US 18 May 2011a). The ICADV provides legal assistance to victims of domestic violence and training to people working with the victims (ICADV n.d.c). The INCASA is an NGO that provides "education, advocacy, and support to professionals, communities, and survivors regarding sexual violence in Indiana" (INCASA n.d.).

The Victims Assistance Program of the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney provides the following services to victims of domestic violence: accompanying victims to court, assisting them in filling applications, referring victims to social service agencies, and assisting them with other legal matters (Clark County n.d.).

Information on the implementation of these services could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Clark County, Indiana. N.d. "Domestic Violence and Shelter Resources." <http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/domviol/res.htm> [Accessed 4 June 2013]

Family Crisis Shelter. N.d.a. "Family Crisis Shelter." <https://sites.google.com/site/familycrisisshelter/home> [Accessed 4 June 2013]

_____. N.d.b. "About Us." <https://sites.google.com/site/familycrisisshelter/who-we-are> [Accessed 4 June 2013]

Indiana. 2002. Indiana Code 34-26-5. <http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title34/ar26/ch5.html> [Accessed 3 June 2013]

_____. 1999. Indiana Code 35-42-2-1.3. <www.in.gov/legislative/ic/2010/title35/ar42/ch2.html> [Accessed 3 June 2013]

_____. 1997. Indiana Code 31-9-2. <http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title31/ar9/ch2.html> [Accessed 4 June 2013]

Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV). 7 March 2012. "ICADV Domestic Violence Support Services Resource Directory 2012-2013." <http://www.icadvinc.org.php53-6.dfw1-1.websitetestlink.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Resource-Directory-2012-2013.pdf> [Accessed 4 June 2013]

_____. 1 October 2012. "Indiana Domestic Violence Deaths 7/1/2011-6/30/2012." <http://www.icadvinc.org.php53-6.dfw1-1.websitetestlink.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Deaths_11-12_rev_Oct_1.pdf> [Accessed 4 June 2013]

_____. N.d.a. "Program Statistics: July 1, 2011-June 30, 2012." <http://www.icadvinc.org.php53-6.dfw1-1.websitetestlink.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/2011-2012-Indiana-program-stats.pdf> [Accessed 3 June 2013]

_____. N.d.b. "Program Statistics: July 1, 2010-June 30, 2011." <http://www.icadvinc.org.php53-6.dfw1-1.websitetestlink.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/2010-2011-Indiana-program-stats2.pdf> [Accessed 3 June 2013]

_____. N.d.c. "What We Do." <http://www.icadvinc.org/about-us/what-we-do> [Accessed 4 June 2013]

Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault (INCASA). N.d. "About." <http://www.incasa.org/about> [Accessed 4 June 2013]

Individuals and Families in Transition (IFIT). N.d. "Individuals and Families in Transition." <http://www.ifitelkhart.org> [Accessed 4 June 2013]

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). N.d. "Domestic Violence Facts." <http://www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf> [Accessed 3 June 2013]

National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH). N.d. "About the Hotline." <http://www.thehotline.org/about-support> [Accessed 3 June 2013]

National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). [2013]. "Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): Renewal Passes the House and Senate and Signed into Law." <http://www.nnedv.org/policy/issues/vawa.html> [Accessed 3 May 2013]

United Nations (UN). 6 June 2011. Human Rights Council. Rashida Manjoo. Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Its Causes and Consequences. (A/HRC/17/26/Add.5) <http://www.refworld.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/rwmain?page=search&docid=4ef1ad5d2&skip=0&query=domestic violence&coi=USA> [Accessed 31 May 2013]

United States (US). 10 May 2012. Lisa M.Seghetti and Jerome P. Bjelopera. Congressional Research Services. "The Violence Against Women Act: Overview, Legislation, and Federal Funding." <http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42499.pdf> [Accessed 30 May 2013]

_____. 18 May 2011a. Department of Health and Human Services Office. "Resources by State on Violence Against Women." <http://womenshealth.gov/violence-against-women/get-help-for-violence/resources-by-state-violence-against-women.cfm> [Accessed 31 May 2013]

_____. 18 May 2011b. Department of Health and Human Services Office. "Violence Against Women: Court Order of Protection (Restraining Order)." <http://www.womenshealth.gov/violence-against-women/get-help-for-violence/court-order-of-protection-restraining-order.cfm> [Accessed 3 June 2013]

_____. 18 May 2011c. Department of Health and Human Services Office. "Violence Against Women: Violence Help Hotlines." <http://womenshealth.gov/violence-against-women/get-help-for-violence/violence-help-hotlines.cfm> [Accessed 3 June 2013]

_____. 2010. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. "National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary." <http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_report2010-a.pdf> [Accessed 3 June 2013]

_____. N.d. Department of Health and Human Services Office. "Family Violence Prevention and Services Program." <http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/fysb/programs/family-violence-prevention-services/about> [Accessed 3 June 2013]

US Immigration Support. N.d. "U Visa for Immigrants Who Are Victims of Crimes." <http://www.usimmigrationsupport.org/visa-u.html> [Accessed 3 June 2013]

WomensLaw.org. 1 October 2012. "Orders for Protection." <&lt;http://www.womenslaw.org/laws_state_type.php?id=512&amp;state_code=IN> [Accessed 3 June 2013]

_____. N.d. "About WomensLaw.org." <http://womenslaw.org/simple.php?sitemap_id=83> [Accessed 4 June 2013]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Attempts to contact representatives of the following organizations were unsuccessful: American Bar Association; Department of Criminal Justice, University of Illinois; Indiana – Family Crisis Shelter, Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence; National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Internet sites, including: American Bar Association; Amnesty International; Department of Criminal Justice, University of Illinois; ecoi.net; Factiva; Freedom House; The Guardian; Human Rights Watch; Indiana – General Assembly, State of Indiana portal; International Federation for Human Rights; The New York Times; School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington; Time; United Nations – Human Rights Committee, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Refworld, UN Women; United States – Department of Justice, Department of State; victimlaw.org; Wthr.com; Women's Health Task Force; Women's Resource Center.

Attachment

Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV). 7 March 2012. "ICADV Domestic Violence Support Services Resource Directory 2012-2013." <http://www.icadvinc.org.php53-6.dfw1-1.websitetestlink.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Resource-Directory-2012-2013.pdf> [Accessed 4 June 2013]