Counselors call for tougher laws against domestic abusers

Shirley Justice is recovering after being shot 14 times by her ex-husband.
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The case of an Indianapolis mother shot in a day care parking lot is creating a lot of conversation about what can be done to stop domestic violence.

Shirley Justice is slowly moving toward total healing. She's one of thousands of victims who are left to pick up the physical and mental pieces of their lives after a domestic violence incident.

She was shot 14 times, police say, by her ex-husband, Christopher Justice.

"I remember thinking to myself, you know, 'I'll stop the custody battle, just please don't kill me," Shirley said.

Domestic violence experts say a major life-changing event can be a trigger for abuse.

"Divorce file, protective order put in place, loss of custody, a decision that's not necessarily favorable to them, anything that makes them seem like they're losing control," said Laura Berry with the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Experts say domestic abuse can be prevented with proper legislative initiatives in place. First, limit gun access to abusers.

"We need to keep guns out of their hands and we need to do a better check on a records checks about that and right now. The preclusion, really, is if they've only been convicted of domestic battery and but so few really do," Berry said.

Experts also say domestic violence penalties should be increased from a misdemeanor.

"If it's listed as violent crime, then it's exempted from many of these crimes that are expungeable and there are certain sentencing requirements around that that should be noted," Berry said.

"Every time he violated a protection order, every time he hurt me, it's like he went unpunished for so long that it took for him to literally try to take my life," Shirley said.

Christopher Justice was arrested and charged with attempted murder, but his bond was lowered from $100,000 to $25,000. Experts say there should be special bond considerations for domestic abuse so victims don't have to live in fear.

Shattering the Silence