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February 2011 Domestic Violence Task Force Minutes

Monroe County Domestic Violence Task Force
February 18, 2011
McCloskey Room, City Hall

Meeting Minutes

Attending: Valerie Collins, Monroe County Probation; Emma Gates, IU School of Social Work; Terri Giehl, Monroe County Prosecutor's Office; Sara Huntington, Middle Way House; Julie McGinnis, Middle Way House; Caroline Shurig, Middle Way House; Brad Swain, Monroe County Sheriff's Office; Lara Weaver, Monroe County Prosecutor's Office; Virginia White, Middle Way House; Mick Williams, Bloomington Police Department; Beverly Calender-Anderson, City of Bloomington.

I. Discussion: Strangulation

Lara recently received a call from a woman whose husband had been arrested for strangulation. He had been arrested previously for strangling the same victim less than 3 months prior. A motion was filed to revoke his bond for probable cause.

Strangulation is one of the most lethal forms of DV. Strangulation victims are 7X as likely to become attempted homicide victims. Strangulation can lead to loss of bladder/bowel control, swelling, difficulty talking or swallowing, memory loss, miscarriage, broken hyoid bone, brain damage or death. Victims may die immediately, but some may not succumb until days or months later. Many times victims don't realize how bad their injuries are until 24 hours after the attack when swelling and bruising set in. In Indiana, strangulation is a D Felony. 10% of violent deaths are attributed to strangulation. Dr. Dean Hawley of the IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis is one of the leading authorities on strangulation in DV cases. In a study of 300 strangulation victims - 50% had no visible injuries; 25% had less serious injuries and only 15% had injuries visible in a photograph that could be used as evidence in court. Oftentimes the words "strangulation" and "choking" are used synonymously. However "choking" indicates something internal as in having something lodged in one's throat. "Strangulation" implies that an outside source is responsible.

In order to prosecute strangulation cases more effectively there is a need for better documentation by first responders and medical providers. It was suggested that perhaps hospital social workers can ask the strangulation question when they see patients. Lara and Terri indicated that victims will sometimes downplay strangulation and that the question of strangulation should be a part of the hospital triage form. Lara would like for DVTF to consider how we can help medical personnel understand the importance of pursuing the questions of strangulation in DV cases and properly documenting it in patient files.

If the Task Force decides to sponsor a mailing, the City of Bloomington Community and Family Resources Department can help design and mail the documents.

Task Force members agreed to revisit this topic at the April meeting.

II. Personnel Policy Template:

Julie met with a local attorney to gather ideas for approaching Human Resource professionals. The draft document is being finalized. A volunteer from the Protective Order Project is gathering case law.

III. Announcements:

Sexual Assault Awareness Month is in April. The Prosecutor's Office is working on a campaign similar to last year's "Blame it on the Alcohol." They are planning 10 presentations during the week of April 4th to reach university students - will also include PSAs, and print ads. This will be a collaboration with Indiana University.

IV. Next Meeting: March 18, 2011 at 12:noon in the McCloskey Hall

Facilitator: Brad Swain

Topic: TBD