Metro Atlanta’s Rockdale County has been chosen for a 100 thousand dollar federal grant to study how the county deals with domestic violence homicides.
It is one of 12 cities and counties across the country to receive the grant.
Greg Loughlin with the Georgia Coalition on Family Violence says our state is ranked 10th in the nation when it comes to the number of women killed by men.
He says “Between 2003 and 2012 there were 1203 domestic violence related deaths. Most of which were committed by abusers with firearms.”
Rockdale County State Judge Nancy Bills says while Rockdale is the state’s second smallest county geographically, it has a disproportionate number of domestic violence homicides. She says they need to educate the whole community about the problem.
“Cause it’s learned behavior. And the only way to stop that cycle is to modify the behavior and re-teach healthy relationships.”she says.
Bills says domestic violence is as old as Cain and Abel, and it is a complicated issue.
Judge Bills says they will use the $100 thousand grant to have Georgia State researchers looking at the problem on a community-wide basis.
“To really identify high-risk victims and services. Whether you have enough services, whether you need to improve services, and better monitoring for high-risk offenders. It will also help us identify what barriers there are, if any. What solutions there might be out there, looking at every system that’s in place.”
Bills says Rockdale is a small county, but the community works as a whole to find solutions. She says that may be why Rockdale was chosen to participate.
The county will also come up with a plan to better protect victims. If the county is chosen for the next phase of the federal program, the money will be used to implement that plan.
In total, the U.S. Department of Justice will award $2.3 million to twelve sites across the country. The other sites are Contra County, California; Miami-Dade County, Florida;
Palm Beach County, Florida; Winnebago County, Illinois; City of Boston, Massachusetts;
Borough of Brooklyn, New York; Westchester County, New York; Pitt County, North Carolina; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; City of North Charleston, South Carolina and the City of Rutland, Vermont.
After the 12 month assessment phase, up to six of the demonstration sites will be selected to continue a three year implementation phase.
Loughlin says there are 46 domestic violence programs across the state that offer more than just emergency shelter. He says they also offer abuse victims safety plans.
He says “You can call and talk through with an expert what are the pros and cons of various steps. There’s pros and cons of getting a protective order. There’s pros and cons of calling 911. The highest lethality factors are when someone leaves.”
Loughlin says there are also pilot domestic violence accountability courts being set up in Clayton and Rockdale counties . He says in LaGrange, a state court judge has set up compliance hearings, to follow the progress of abusers who have been convicted and ordered into treatment.
If you are looking for help to get out of an abusive situation, you can call (800) 33-Haven or (800) 334-2836.