October is dedicated to raise awareness and education for domestic violence, a sensitive truth in today’s culture.
The main problem facing domestic violence awareness is denial of the problem, according to Beth Peters, the coordinator for the Domestic Violence Outreach (DVO) in Calhoun.
“People just don’t want to think that it happens in our community,” she said.
Unfortunately, that is far from the case. In Gordon County alone, DVO served 786 new, unduplicated cases of domestic violence in 2009. On average, the office receives 20-35 new clients a month.
The national estimate, according to the American Bar Association statistics, is approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men who are physically assaulted by their intimate partner annually.
According to Peters, this number has slowly increased as the country’s economic and employment situation has declined.
The reason for this is two-fold she said. The first is that job loss increases stressors in the home, leading to more violent outbursts. The second is the instability and uncertainty the abused woman has about leaving the home and having to provide for and support herself.
“A couple of years ago people had a better opportunity to find a job when they leave,” she said. Unfortunately in this economy, that is no longer the case, she added.
According to Peters, one of the biggest challenges faced by victims of domestic abuse is finding support both emotionally and financially.
“If you are approached by a victim of domestic violence, it is important to be supportive and non-judgmental. It is also important to let the victim know that services are available,” said Peters.
According to Peters, there has been a heightened awareness of domestic violence over the past few years, which will she hopes will lead more people to seek help.
One of the main jobs of the center is safety planning, said Peters, which ensures that victims have a plan to en-sure their safety and the safety of their children before or after an attack.
The DVO works in collaboration with a women’s shelter in Dalton and several other shelters in the area.
The DVO has a lot of walk-ins, according to Peters, and many cases are opened time and again because victims don’t always leave their abusive environment.
“We treat them the same the seventh time they’re in our office as we do the first,” said Peters.
The law enforcement in Gordon County is also instrumental in the fight against domestic violence in Gordon County according to Peters.
Approximately 30 percent of all referrals are from law enforcement.
“We have a very good working relationship with the law enforcement in the city and the county,” she said.
This process works on a “self-referral” type basis where the responding law enforcement officer gives out a card to the victim and the victim calls the center, Peters explained.
“They do a very good job of making victims aware of our services,” she said.
For more information about the Domestic Violence Outreach in Gordon County call (706) 625-5586.
“Every year, domestic violence affects thousands of Georgia families. Through strong collaboration with other Gordon county agencies and law enforcement officials, our office is working to end domestic violence in Gordon County,” said April Broome, client advocate for the DVO.