New numbers are out about domestic violence deaths in Georgia and the report is alarming.
The Georgia Commission on Family Violence and the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence issued Georgia's 2012 Domestic Violence Fatality Review Report. These statewide agencies coordinate the Fatality Review Project and work with local teams to review domestic violence-related deaths and learn how Georgia can respond more effectively and prevent more fatalities from occurring. The reportanalyzes domestic violence homicides in the state and provides recommendations for systems change which will lead to lower homicide rates.
Georgia holds the unfortunate distinction of ranking 10th in the nation for men killing women in single-victim homicides, most of which are domestic violence murders, according to a study conducted by the Violence Policy Center. Over the past 10 years, the project has recorded the deaths of over 1,200 Georgians due to domestic violence.
In 2012, we recorded the deaths of 128 Georgians due to domestic violence. Already this year in Georgia, 34 people have lost their lives. In response to these numbers, Greg Loughlin, executive director of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, stated, "Now is the time to learn from these deaths and implement changes to prevent more people from dying."
Some of the main findings of the reportinclude:
Firearms are the leading cause of death in domestic violence fatalities in Georgia, greater than all other methods combined. In 2012, 76 percent of domestic violence related fatalities in Georgia were due to firearms.
Victims are in contact with law enforcement at much higher rates than domestic violence programs. In reviewed cases, 77 percent of victims were in contact with law enforcement in the five years before the homicide.
Faith communities are a leading source of support in the lives of victims. In reviewed cases, 30 percent of victims were actively involved in their faith community in the five years before the homicide.
Employers and co-workers have the potential to increase victim safety through training on recognizing symptoms, supporting victims, and making referrals. In reviewed cases, 75 percent of victims were employed outside of the home at the time of the homicide.
Children are impacted by these devastating fatalities. In 43 percent of reviewed cases, the victim and perpetrator shared minor children at the time of the homicide and children witnessed the homicide in 18 percent of the cases.
Teen dating and young relationship abuse surfaced in the report and support the need for increased resources and effective responses for early intervention. In reviewed cases, 46 percent of victims began their relationship with the person who eventually killed them when they were between the ages of 16 and 24.
Most victims do not know about local domestic violence agencies in their community or that they can call 1-800-33-HAVEN for support and resources 24 hours a day.
Jan Christiansen, executive director of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, urges readers to view the reportas a call to action.
"Fatality reviews are a crucial part of learning how we can do things differently in Georgia to connect victims with resources and hold perpetrators accountable," Christiansen said. "We must join together, as legislators, citizens, law enforcement, faith communities, and nonprofit groups to speak out about domestic violence, think critically about the gaps that exist in our communities, and identify crucial intervention points in the lives of victims and abusers."
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.
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.
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