Domestic violence victim support funding to be cut in Hamilton County

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Hamilton County plans to cut funding for victims of domestic violence.

The decision came just one day after a woman was shot and killed by her ex-husband and as local domestic violence groups report a 34-percent jump in crisis calls in Hamilton County over the past year.

When Shannon Hall was shot and killed by her ex-husband David in Carmel Sunday night, it underscored a very important point.

"Of the top 10 counties, Hamilton County, is the only county that does not have a domestic violence shelter," according to Jay Geshay, the Senior Vice President of United Way of Central Indiana.

That is why the United Way of Central Indiana has called it the #1 issue confronting Hamilton County.

Shannon Hall did not ask for a protective order or request any abuse services, but if she had, she and her two children would have had to move to Anderson.

According to the Domestic Violence Network, Hamilton County experienced a 34 percent increase in domestic violence crisis calls in 2011-12. Sixty-seven callers requested residential services, ranking Hamilton County fourth behind Marion, Madison and Hendricks counties. "No residential" calls jumped to 183 - second only to Marion County.

"That is my biggest concern - that people are not seeking this resource because it's too hard on the family; too hard to earn a living and too hard on the kids," said Hamilton County Commissioner Christine Altman.

"Because transportation can be a huge obstacle for people we work with, that makes it an even bigger obstacle to leaving," added Susan Ferguson. She is the executive director of Prevail, which transports victims of domestic violence to Anderson.

Yet one day after the Hall murder-suicide, the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners voted to cut domestic violence spending by $10,000 in next year's budget. Commissioner Altman said that was done because currently there is no move to build a domestic violence shelter.

"It's hard to pull the parties together and it's hard to have the right operator," Altman stated. "Right now, they have to have Prevail come to the scene, provide transportation and go from there. That is a very expensive proposition when it comes to officers and the need we have on the street for law enforcement."

A prayer service was scheduled for Tuesday night for Shannon O'Malia Hall at 7:00 p.m. It will be held in the Joe O'Malia Performing Arts Center of Cathedral High School. Visitation and funeral information has not been released.

Shattering the Silence - See's resources for fighting domestic violence, and what to do if you need help.