It is time to end the stigma of domestic violence

There’s a new task force in town — one we wish we didn’t need. Unfortunately, even here, we do.

Earlier this week, victims and survivors held a candlelight vigil on the steps of the old courthouse. The purpose was to honor those victims and survivors. Yes, survivors, because not everyone lives through domestic abuse.

Over the last five years, five people have died as the result of domestic violence in our county. There may be a sixth, as the boyfriend of a woman who died in November of 2012 goes on trial on Nov. 8. An important fact about those victims — two were men, one was 5 weeks old. Domestic violence has no regard for sex or age or economic status.

It was the first event for the newly formed Coweta County Domestic Violence Task Force. The group wants to “bring public awareness to domestic violence,” said Melissa Sizemore, victim witness advocate for the Coweta Solicitor’s Office.

“It’s not spoken about,” she said in a recent interview with our newspaper. “That is what we want to do, to bring more awareness. So many people are still of the mindset that it just needs to stay behind those four walls, that it is a family matter … no one needs to get involved.”

Sizemore is right. We as a community need to understand how deadly domestic violence is. It is a pattern that progresses through well-known stages. The end result if something isn’t done? The same that happened to Theresa Jean Hood, 53; John Britt Hall, 37; Willie Joshua Pace, 37; Cathy Lorraine McNaughton, 54; and Austin Edwards, 5 weeks. They were remembered with wooden cutouts during the vigil.

Domestic violence is here in Coweta. Last year the sheriff’s office responded to more than 300 calls and made more than 100 arrests relating to domestic violence. The sad thing is, we could multiply those numbers by several factors simply because far too many victims don’t speak out.

We salute the organizers for setting up the task force and wish them great success. But don’t just rely on them; get involved yourself either by joining the group or taking a more proactive stance when you see potential abuse. Sometimes we need to speak for victims who will not, or cannot, speak for themselves.

The task force is holding its first official meeting today from noon to 1 p.m. at the Coweta County Justice Center’s Cranford Hall. For more information, contact Sizemore at 770-714-0402.




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