Next week, a group of local women will graduate from a program that in many ways may have saved their lives. In observance of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the In Our Best Interest program, supported through the Baldwin County solicitor general’s office, is a series of sessions free of charge that elevate self-esteem and counsel local women to empower them to get help.
Some women and family members throughout the state and all over the country may not be as fortunate to have these types of supportive programs and resources. That’s why this annual observance should serve as a wakeup call to action.
Unfortunately, many women do not seek or even have available the kinds of resources provided locally. 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.
Sadly, we have seen and read instances of domestic violence play out with a tragic end in our own community. For the families that have been affected and are now learning to cope in the face of those tragedies, and even for the community at-large, that makes two times too many.
Georgia has 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 horrific violence affects all family members — not just spouses — and hurts most profoundly because the pain, harm and even deaths that it inflicts are done to supposed loved ones.
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 or the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline at 1-866-331-9474. Locally, contact the solicitor general’s office at (478) 445-4445. Call for a friend. Call for a loved one. Call someone for help. Don’t allow a violence to interrupt — or even end — precious lives.