Milledgeville was rocked on Christmas Eve morning of reports of a shooting that claimed two lives. A story of this magnitude is tragic not only for the community but especially for the families who lost their loved ones.
Two young people, both in their early 20s, lost their lives this week in Baldwin County, and while their families mourn their loss the community must continue to bolster its efforts to combat domestic violence.
Last year there were 1,200 reported cases of domestic violence in Baldwin County. This figure does not include the stories and incidents that go unreported every day.
Consider also the ancillary impact of the lives affected as well, the families and, especially children, who have lived through the tragic impact of domestic violence - and hopefully you see the urgent need for increased resources and support to combat the issue.
One in every four women in America at some point in their lifetimes will experience domestic violence. The highest percentage of domestic violence victims are women, and yet, it is statistically one of the nation's most chronically underreported crimes, according to a report by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Children often see first-hand the abuse and are more likely to contribute to the vicious cycle as they become adults.
Georgia ranks among the top tier of states where domestic and family violence is most likely to occur. That abuse takes many forms: emotional, psychological, physical, sexual and financial. Such violence affects all family members - not just spouses or partners.
Those affected must know that there are resources available that can provide assistance. Earlier this year a local safe house opened its doors for adults and children seeking refuge and temporary shelter from abusive circumstances. To contact Victory House, operated through Victory Baptist Church, may call (478) 451-5291 or (478) 456-9074.
There are also other resources - the county solicitor general's office provides support for victims. The office can be reached at (478) 445-4445. And there are others. There are solutions and there are ways to escape. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 799-7233, the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1 (800) 656-4673, the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline at 1 (866) 331-9474.
We must remember that domestic violence does not discriminate. Its impact spans socio-economic status, education, age and ethnicity, and for those living through it, its grasp is often difficult to loosen.
Any one of us who knows someone dealing with domestic violence-related issues knows someone who may be seeking a way out. Call for a friend. Call for a loved one. Call someone for help.