Georgia ranks 15th in the country for its rate at which men kill women in single-victim homicides, most of which are domestic violence murders, according to a study conducted by the Violence Policy Center.
Today, Speaker of the House David Ralston provided opening remarks as the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Georgia Commission on Family Violence issued their 6th annual Domestic Violence Fatality Review Report. The Report analyzes these homicides and near-deadly assaults, provides strategies for ending domestic violence, and spotlights communities that have successfully implemented recommendations from previous reports. House Speaker David Ralston observed, “It is a sad state of affairs that we have to be here today. There should not be any lives lost to domestic violence in this state.” In the last seven years, 835 Georgians have died due to domestic violence. In the Fatality Review Project, these statewide organizations work with local teams to review these deaths and learn how Georgia can respond more effectively and prevent more fatalities from occurring.
There are many recent tragedies reported in the media, such as Kinaya Byrd, allegedly stabbed by her fiance?; Shelley Dunn, allegedly killed by her husband in a Wal-Mart parking lot; and Rajaan Bennett, a rising football star, allegedly killed by his mother’s ex-boyfriend. Juvenile Court Judge Michael Key said, “These are only some of the recent losses to our state. These lives have been cut short by unnecessary and preventable acts of violence. We must do more to stop this.” The Georgia Commission on Family Violence and the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence are leading the way, working with local communities to end domestic violence in Georgia. Dr. Kirsten Rambo, Executive Director of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, said, “This Report can and should be used as a tool in every community to end violence in the home. We are all called to act, because the lives lost are in all of our communities – they’re our family, friends, neighbors and coworkers.’’
The 2009 Domestic Violence Fatality Review Report found, in line with national research, that the majority of people killed were trying to leave an abusive relationship. Dr. Kirsten Rambo stated, “It’s not easy to leave, and it’s not always safe to just pick up and go.” She urged those wanting to leave an abusive relationship to contact the local domestic violence agency to create a plan to leave safely.
The speakers noted that while the state still has much work to do, Georgia is making good progress: the current ranking of 15th in the nation has dropped significantly from just three years ago, when the state was ranked 7th in the nation for these homicides. Nicole Lesser, Executive Director of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, discussed the critical services that are a crucial part of this success: “Last year alone, Georgia’s domestic violence organizations responded to over 72,000 crisis calls. Yet we all know that in difficult economic times, victims of domestic violence suffer disproportionately. We have to find a way to make sure these vital services continue to be available for Georgians who are suffering from abuse.” All of the speakers indicated their hope that more citizens would mobilize to work together to end this violence.
If you or someone you know is being abused, there are community and statewide resources available to you. Call 1-800-33-HAVEN (voice/TTY), the toll-free, statewide, 24-hour hotline, for a confidential place to get help or find resources.
To access the report for free online, or for information about the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, please go to www.fatalityreview.com.