Laura Berry, executive director of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, speaks during the Women in Philanthropy luncheon at the Anderson Country Club on Friday. Staff photo by Don Knight
Laura Berry, executive director of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, speaks during the Women in Philanthropy luncheon at the Anderson Country Club on Friday. Staff photo by Don Knight
ANDERSON — The issues of homelessness, domestic violence and child abuse do not flourish in isolation and require solutions by an entire community, said Laura Berry, executive director of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“They’re all interconnected,” she said. “We know community connectedness is the protective factor for so many forms of violence.”

Berry’s remarks Friday as keynote speaker at the Women in Philanthropy luncheon at the Anderson Country Club were intended to serve as a reminder that the need for contributions is persistent and unlikely to go away.

Friday also was National Philanthropy Day.

Among the more than 150 attendees at the luncheon were state Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, and state Sen. Timothy Lanane, D-Anderson.

“I look at your beautiful faces and think, ‘Look at the power in this room,’” said Sally DeVoe, executive director at Madison County Community Foundation and a coordinator of the event, prior to Berry’s introduction by Cindy Lanane, associate director at the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Lanane said the Women in Philanthropy luncheon serves as a reminder of the importance of sharing one’s time, talent and treasure.

“I think it’s important to come together every year and hear people speak and let us know where the need is,” she said.

Berry, a mother of three who said she also realized many years later that she was in a three-year abusive relationship when she was in college, started her domestic violence advocacy more than three decades ago in Madison County’s Victim Advocacy Office, a part of the Prosecutor’s Office.

“She was someone who always quickly recognized when a staff member experienced difficulty on her own journey,” Lanane said. “I believe she embodies the spirit of philanthropy.”

Indiana domestic violence service providers annually conduct a survey that helps them quantify the need and evaluate the impact of their work.

On Sept. 13, 2018, the most recent day for which data has been compiled, the state’s 47 programs helped 2,071 people, Berry said. At the end of the day, she said, the needs of 130 went unmet.

Since then, she added, three Indiana domestic violence shelters have closed because of lack of funding caused by a lack of giving.

The lack of giving, Berry said, is due to three factors: stagnant wages that leave people with less to contribute, soaring healthcare costs and the federal tax reform that eliminated breaks for philanthropic contributions.

“People aren’t as motivated to give,” she said.

To understand how violence can be eradicated, Berry said, people need to understand the underlying reasons it exists, which include love of power, strict gender roles and societal privacy norms.

“Let me be clear, violence is a choice,” she said.

Some elements of American society, including the way money equates to value and a cross section of individuals who have unearned privilege, also contributes to domestic violence, which crosses all socio-economic lines, Berry said. Unfair inequities between individuals fuels multiple forms of violence, she said.

“Dating back to childhood, we can tell you whether you will be a victim of domestic violence later in life,” she said.

For many years, Berry said, the go-to advice for women experiencing domestic violence was to leave the abuser. But recent research has shown that the abused may be placed in greater danger, including injury or death, by leaving if strong supports aren’t in place, she said.

In some instances, the abuser may be enraged and harm the victim again, but in others, the victim and his or her children may be endangered by food, shelter or other insecurities.

“We will have replaced one form of violence for other insecurities when we ask for them to leave,” she said.

To that end, the ICADV provides inclusive programs that focus on prevention, intervention, advocacy, awareness, training and legal aid, Berry said.

“We make sure these things come into fruition by creating safe and stable environments,” she said. “We do a lot of work with a little bit of nothing.”

Deanne Beard, of Alexandria, said she hasn’t missed any of the Women in Philanthropy luncheons in the 15 years of the event. She said she enjoys attending for the fellowship.

“The women are genuinely interested in other people. And it’s so great to see the younger people participate,” she said. “They have had some great speakers here, too. And it’s getting close to Christmas, so you get in the festive mood.”

Beard, who has served on the board at Alternatives, said events like the Women in Philanthropy luncheon are important because they reinforce the need to give.

“You really felt like you were helping people,” she said.
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