Indiana groups fighting violence against women with grant funds

Five of the 51 public and nonprofit organizations receiving grants to combat violence against women are based in Marion County.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana is receiving $3 million to help organizations statewide combat violence against women.

The funding comes through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute as part of the STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program. “STOP” stands for services, training, officers and prosecutors.

Five of the 51 public and nonprofit organizations across the state are based in Marion County.

Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking

One of the Marion County organizations to receive a portion of the grant money is the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking, or ICESAHT.

The organization received the most of all Marion County organizations, topping the list at more than $140,000.

“We are very gratified,” said ICESAHT President and CEO Beth White. “We are very appreciative.”

ICESAHT aims to empower, advocate and educate Hoosiers on behalf of survivors and the people who support them. According to White, that includes prevention education with K-12 schools and higher education.

“There’s just more to do,” said White, “and we are just excited to expand the opportunity. The more people that we interact with, the more people who are equipped to understand what’s happening, the better off that we’ll all be.”

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White said the two-year funding allows ICESAHT to continue statewide collaboration and coordination. That’s because ICESAHT is the only Indiana organization that reaches every sexual assault and human trafficking service provider in the state, according to White.

“One thing we know about domestic violence,” said White, “it is an equal opportunity problem. No matter how much money you make, no matter how big your house is, no matter what your profession is or your spouse’s profession, you’re at risk in a home where there is an imbalance of power and where there is violence.”

Fighting human trafficking is the second part of the ICESAHT mission. White called it “a much bigger problem than people realize.”

The coalition hosts a group called the IPATH Task Force. White described it as a multidisciplinary group co-chaired by ICESAHT and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District. 

The goal of the task force is to educate and collaborate to look for signs of human trafficking.

“We work closely with law enforcement,” White said. “That’s really the important thing for this funding.”

Additionally, the coalition launched the Criminalization Alternatives Project, or CAP, which works with prisons and jails to help women coming out of incarceration to prevent them from falling back into trafficking.

“Those are women who are desperate,” said White. “They are desperate, because they cannot figure out another opportunity for economic empowerment for themselves and their families, and they fall into a life of trafficking, because they have no other choices. So we’d really like to break that cycle.”

Indiana Latino Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Also on the list of Marion County organizations receiving STOP funding is the Indiana Latino Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

The mission of that organization is to promote awareness and work toward the elimination of domestic and sexual violence and its effects on Latino communities in Indiana.

Executive Director Edwin Arellano said the coalition empowers Latino women by helping them understand their rights and how the legal system works.

“We make sure the victims understand that all types of violence must be reported and that no victim is alone,” Arellano said.

Arellano said the new STOP funding will help fuel the ENLACE program that supports victims and service providers through the state of Indiana.

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