According to criminal justice data in Marion County, the number of reported domestic violence victims has fallen 27 percent since 2009, according to a report prepared by The Polis Center and SAVI for the Domestic Violence Network. An Update on Domestic Violence in the Criminal Justice System combines court records, police records, and records from The Julian Center to assess trends in domestic violence.

Victims and perpetrators of domestic violence often appear multiple times in many data sets, but by “matching” people based on name and demographics, we can estimate the number of unduplicated victims and perpetrators. We can learn about these victims and perpetrators, and we can learn what happens to these incidents throughout the court system.

The number of victims reported in these records has fallen from 14,819 in 2009 to 10,797 in 2016, while the number of perpetrators rose slightly from 10,212 to 10,362. This analysis only includes domestic violence incidents that get reported to the police. Many incidents go unreported, and would not be captured in this data.

Most Domestic Violence Cases Are Dismissed or Have Charges Dropped

Of the 35,570 cases of domestic violence that the Marion County Prosecutors Office saw between 2009 and 2015, 10,649 had a verdict. In the bulk of cases, charges were dropped or cases were dismissed. For those cases that remain, nearly all result in a conviction.

How Domestic Violence Cases Progress Through Court

Source: Marion County Prosecutors Office

Nearly 11,000 cases had charges dropped between 2009 and 2015, mostly because of insufficient evidence. Nearly 13,000 cases were dismissed, a total of 63,000 separate charges. (One case can have many charges.) One-third of dismissed charges were dismissed for reasons related to problems locating a victim/witness or getting a victim/witness to testify. In domestic violence cases, often the victim is the only witness, and fear or other pressures can hinder that individual from testifying.

Reason for Dismissal of Domestic Violence Charges

Reason for Dismissal Charges Percent of Charges
No Reason Given 23,007 36%
Witness/Victim Not Present, Recants, Will Not Testify, or Cannot be Located 20,712 33%
Problems with Evidence 15,269 24%
Other Reasons 4,229 7%

Source: Marion County Prosecutors Office

Victims Tend to be Women 20-34 Years Old

Domestic violence perpetrators are overwhelming men, while victims are overwhelmingly women. In 2016, 5 in 6 victims were women and 5 in 6 perpetrators were men.

Sources: The Julian Center, IMPD Victims’ Assistance, Indiana Supreme Court, Marion County Prosecutors Office, Baker One Initiative

Domestic violence happens most frequently among millennials. One in twenty people between 20 and 34 years old were either a perpetrator or a victim of domestic violence. There are an estimated 221,000 people in Marion County between 20 and 34 years old, according to the American Community Survey 2015 5-Year Estimates. Of these, 5,100 were perpetrators of domestic violence and 5,700 were victims.

Sources: The Julian Center, IMPD Victims’ Assistance, Indiana Supreme Court, Marion County Prosecutors Office, Baker One Initiative

Victims Concentrated in Center Township

The areas with the highest rates of domestic violence victims are mostly within Center Township, though victims live across Marion County. In the map below, hash marks indicate census tracts with median income below 60% of Area Median Income (the typical income for the Indy metro area, which was $69,900 in 2017). Low-income tracts appear to align with high domestic violence rates, but not exclusively. There are pockets of medium and high domestic violence rates outside of low-income areas, such as Decatur Township and northwest along Michigan Road.

Domestic Violence Rate in Marion County

Sources: American Community Survey 2015 5-Yr. Estimates, The Julian Center

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