Posted on: 02.02.16
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For More Information Contact:
Jameelah Ferrell, Event Coordinator
Group Urges Georgia Lawmakers to Strengthen Family Violence Laws to Adequately Hold Offenders Accountable
ATLANTA, GA, February 2, 2016 – Hundreds gathered at the Georgia State Capitol today, urging legislators to pass a bill that would strengthen Georgia’s existing Family Violence law. SB193 was the focus of today’s Stop Violence Against Women Day, an annual event to draw attention to the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault in Georgia. This proposed legislation will ensure that a previous family violence battery conviction against the same victim or any family violence felony conviction against any household member would result in a subsequent family violence battery and would be punished as a felony.
“Current Georgia law should be modified to adequately hold repeat violent offenders of family violence accountable, “says Jennifer Thomas, Executive Director of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.
“More and more we are hearing Media incidents where abusers convicted of a violent family violence felony are being rearrested and charged with misdemeanors. This gap in Georgia law is not increasing victim safety and we urge lawmakers to close this gap,” says Jan Christiansen, Executive Director of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Christiansen also urges victims of domestic violence to contact Georgia’s 24-hour statewide domestic violence hotline at 1-800-334-2836 to talk to an advocate at one of Georgia’s 46 state-certified domestic violence programs about how they can plan for their safety and to learn about services in their community.
Based on the most recent service statistics of these domestic violence programs and of the 22 state-funded sexual assault programs, it is clear that need for such service is great. From October 2013 through September 2014, Georgia’s 46 state-certified domestic violence programs provided services to over 30,404 victims and their children and answered nearly 61,415 crisis calls. During that same time period, Georgia’s 22 state-funded sexual assault programs served 4,456 victims of rape and sexual assault, including 1,931 child victims, and answered over 8,819 crisis calls.
“We appreciate that Governor Deal has shown a commitment to maintaining stable state funding for these critical services in his proposed FY17 budget,” says Jennifer Bivins, Executive Director of the Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault .
“Stop Violence Against Women Day gives us a chance to talk with legislators to ensure that the much needed funding remains stable, to ask for necessary changes to our laws to improve victim safety, and to share the incredible, life-saving work these programs do with their constituents,” says Thomas.
Mary Kay Inc., which provides financial support to organizations in Georgia and throughout the country that work to end violence against women, served as the primary sponsor for the event. “Mary Kay is honored to serve as the primary sponsor of Stop Violence Against Women Day in Georgia, and we are immensely proud of the Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants who joined with leaders and advocates from across the state in support of ending domestic violence,” said Crayton Webb, Vice President of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility for Mary Kay Inc. “Mary Kay is committed to being the corporate leader in the effort to prevent and end violence against women once and for all.”
To find a domestic violence program near you, call Georgia’s 24-Hour Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline – 1.800.33.HAVEN (1.800.334.2836) (Voice/TTY)
To find a sexual assault center near you, visit www.gnesa.org or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline – 1.800.656.HOPE (1.800.656.4673)