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Indiana experiencing domestic violence ‘crisis’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Victims advocates agree a crisis of domestic violence is brewing, highlighted by a murder-suicide on the east side Tuesday morning.

Police believe Dorrell Paterson shot Davidtra Henderson before turning the gun on himself.

Advocates who work to prevent domestic violence say there are a lot of new stress points families are dealing with. Crystal Jenkins lives across the street and was good friends with both Paterson and Henderson.

“I’m really sad because they loved each other,” Jenkins said. “They’d been together for a really long time.”

Jenkins is a survivor of domestic violence herself. She hopes this story brings awareness to others.

“It doesn’t have to end like this. There’s outlets for stuff like this,” she said.

Danyette Smith was a friend and is the founder of Silent No More, a nonprofit aimed at helping victims of domestic violence.

“Emotional, this is heartbreaking,” Smith said. “This is a crisis that’s taking place here in Indiana.”

Smith says she can only imagine what Henderson was going through before this happened.

“Right now, there’s no words that can be explained for this. We just hope that those who are facing domestic violence try to reach out, see what resources are available,” she said.

One such resource is the Julian Center, where Jami Schnurpel is the director of programs and survivor services. Schnurpel says calls from victims went up about 25% when the pandemic began and have been holding steady. Stressors like losing a job and kids being home from school resulted in violence from abusers.

While there are new stressors looming from things like the eviction moratorium ending soon, things opening back up have allowed the space for more people to reach out.

“We don’t anticipate that going down,” Schnurpel said. “It’s a little bit of a recipe for disaster. When you’re adding in the ingredients, adding in all the stressors, it is very fertile ground for violent behavior.”

The good news is there is help, including the Julian Center’s 24-hour crisis hotline number, which is 317-920-9320. They also monitor their Facebook page and social media round-the-clock to help victims in need.

“Reach out for help. We’re here,” Schnurpel promised.

Advocates say this is not just an Indianapolis problem, but something that is happening around the country.

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