JEFFERSONVILLE, Indiana — The issue of domestic violence, and abuse eventually leading to deaths within the home, is growing worse in Indiana.
That's according to data from the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, recording 98 intimate partner violence-related deaths between July 2020 and June 2021. The group says that's a 181% increase compared to the same period from 2019 to 2020.
In southern Indiana, police have been investigating the murder of three different women in the last two months where either a husband or ex-husband is charged in the case.
"The domestic violence cases are the cases that really concern me," said Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Jeremy Mull, who is overseeing two of the three recent cases. "Many times these individuals will remain in these violent relationships, the abuse will happen over and over, then something very violent happens."
Mull said with cases of domestic violence, there's often a paper trail. But much of that evidence can go unreported or doesn't make its way to a judge.
He said even when lower offenses within the home are filed, they need to be highlighted because often those individuals are one episode away from death.
"Many times they'll finally get the courage to call the police, there will be an arrest made of the person who is abusing them. And then a month, two months, eight months down the road -- due to many factors -- the victim will stop cooperating with the prosecutors' offices," he said.
WHAS11 asked what can be done, and whether there's a fix to be made within the legal system.
Mull said the process can be so daunting for victims, they at times won't show up to testify even after abuse charges are filed. He believes a key to helping the overarching issue is a change in the rules of evidence, allowing attorneys like him to prove a case for victims without needing the victims themselves to testify.
"There are many times where I have a case, where I know what happened: The victim's given a detailed statement, it's corroborated by evidence," said Mull. "But come the day of trial, the victim is not there to testify for whatever reason, and then the offender is going to walk free because the jury can never hear a lot of this evidence."
WHAS11 also asked Mull about one of the more common resources: a no-contact order, and whether it's effective and easy to obtain in Southern Indiana.
He said responses are typically quick, but says the best thing to do first is file a report with the police.
He also added that having more victim advocates in the system to get people the right help, as quickly as possible, would go a long way to potentially avoid tragedies.
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