Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of four articles by guest writer Christopher Yingling, marketing intern at The Beaman Home. The series is intended to shed light on the issue of domestic violence in the community. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
In the entire process of legally solving a domestic violence dispute, the prosecution process may seem the scariest and most time-consuming for a victim.
Watching the person they’ve loved and trusted for so long go through the legal system can be an extremely daunting experience. However, the prosecutor and victim’s assistance offices are there to help the process be as seamless and easy as possible for the victim.
Prosecutor Dan Hampton and Victim’s Assistant Linda Giusti are there to make sure perpetrators of domestic violence are properly charged and processed while also ensuring that the victim’s needs are met.
“The prosecution of a domestic violence case starts with the incident itself. From there, it carries all the way forward to completion. Through the course of the prosecution, you start to get into the history prior to the incident,” Hampton said. “That’s when the victim’s assistant comes into play. The victim’s assistance staff is there to assist the victim through the legal process; not to be a counselor or assist in social problems, but to make sure victims are informed and know their rights from the prosecutor’s office.”
“When a victim speaks up, they need to know that they have rights,” added Giusti. “No one has the right to hurt you and no one has the right to make you do something you don’t want to do. You are a human being who is to be loved and respected.”
Hampton broke down the prosecution process in order to lay out the way everything works.
“Police officers will arrive to the scene and make the arrest once they determine if there’s probable cause to make the arrest. The abuser is then transported to the jail for a holding period of at least eight hours, which is, by statute, a cooling-off period,” said Hampton. “After that, the person will have an initial hearing where they’ll hear their constitutional rights, penalties and charges. The pre-trial conference will happen and the victim will be contacted to find out exactly what happened. From there, we determine whether to proceed by plea or trial.”
When asked how many cases of domestic violence were filed in a month in Kosciusko County, the results were astounding.
“We filed 19 cases of physical domestic violence in the month of June, but if one accounts for invasion of privacy disputes and stalking, it would be even higher, because those are domestic issues, too,” said Giusti.
Hampton predicted that the amount of non-reported cases of domestic violence would be significantly higher than those reported in the county, but explained that a changing society with services like the Beaman Home are empowering victims to speak up.
“The time has come where the reported numbers are increasing because victims have a better opportunity to be heard and respected,” he said. “I think society has built them up a level through the Beaman Home and other opportunities to encourage and rebuild their courage to report and to maintain their case through the court system. I think that the Beaman Home has been instrumental in promoting the discussion and education within the community; there are many resources available in our community to protect and help the victims of domestic violence.”
Every life is impacted by domestic violence in some way, and the Beaman Home is here to help. Giusti says being educated and aware is the first step in stopping the violence.
“I don’t think there is one person who has not witnessed, has not lived with, or has not been impacted by violence. In different ways, of course, but we don’t want to say it out loud or hear it,” she said. “Activities that the Beaman Home has to promote and educate help a lot. It’s about awareness right now, everybody should know about domestic violence and what steps can be taken to prevent it.”
Victims of domestic violence may phone Beaman Home’s crisis hotline 24/7 at 877-725-9363. Professionals are available to help.
The Beaman Home’s plans for a new Emergency Shelter and Outreach Center to replace one they have simply outgrown will provide appropriate space in which to shelter victims and their children. It will also expand services to help empower them to take the first step into a violence-free lifestyle. Beaman is in the final stages of raising the funds necessary to construct the new facility. Now is the time to help. To learn more about Beaman’s plans or to make a contribution to help build the expanded Emergency Shelter and Outreach Center, please call 574-372-3503 or visit Beaman’s website at www.thebeamanhome.com
For questions regarding this article, please contact Tracie Hodson, executive director, at tracie@thebeamanhome.org or 574-372-3503.