Thursday's Editorial

Domestic Violence still an issue

A just-released study ranks Georgia 10th in the nation — not bad if this was the pre-season football rankings.

Unfortunately, that’s where the state stands in terms of the number of domestic violence deaths.

A recent study listed 128 people, including one in Coweta County, killed as the result of abuse throughout the state in 2012.That is unacceptable. What is more troubling is the untold thousands of women who are tormented — emotionally, verbally and physically — every day.

In yesterday’s paper, an article by staff writer John Winters shows three more cases here in Coweta over the last few days. In one, a man dragged his girlfriend across the roadway, and then threw a brick through a car window, shattering the glass and striking her in the head. In another, a boyfriend yanked chunks of hair out of his girlfriend’s hair and then beat her and stomped on her stomach. She is nearly three months pregnant. And in the third, a boyfriend burned his girlfriend with a hot iron.

There is another story today about a man hitting his wife with a gun, slamming her against the wall and putting the gun against her throat.

The most publicized case recently is that of Nicole Hernane, whose boyfriend repeatedly beat her with a baseball bat. She may lose an eye, he broke both her arms, and she has physical and emotional scars for life.

Overall, the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office responded to 330 domestic violence incidents last year; 121 were arrested. The Community Welcome House, which focuses on domestic violence, received more than 800 calls last year.

Part of the problem is the abused don’t seek help, or are too often afraid of the embarrassment of others finding out they have been abused, or worried about angering their abuser and face another beating. It is a stigma too many keep to themselves. always hoping the abuser will change. But ask experts in the field of domestic violence, and they will tell you it will only get worse. Yelling turns to pushing, which turns to hitting, which turns to beatings, and then what?

As a society, we are slowly starting to highlight certain crimes. Sex offenders must register and check in with authorities. Their photos appear occasionally in the newspaper.

Those convicted of DUI charges must also have their photos put in the newspaper. The purpose of that is to inform the public, and in the cases of DUI, provide a little embarrassment as well.

We need a domestic violence registry. We need lawmakers to enact legislation to highlight domestic abusers. Let’s have the courts order these criminals, and that’s what they are, to publish their photos so others are aware. Make them wear a sign that says “My name is Bob. I like to beat women.”

And we as a community must become more proactive. It is up to us to help the abused by reporting attacks to the authorities. It is time for Georgia and Coweta County to focus on becoming the “Biggest Loser” by ranking 50th in the nation for domestic violence.

But it is up to us to change the stigma. If you know of a friend who is being abused, get her counseling, get her help, report it. You may save a life.Help is available.

Here are some contacts: Community Welcome House, 770-304-0966 or email www.communitywelcomehouse.org ; Georgia domestic abuse hotline, 1-800-334-2836; Georgia Commission on Family Violence, www.gcfv.org/ .



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