02 Oct Letter to Editor – October 2009
Posted at 20:41h in Director's Corner
October 2, 2009
I spent the morning earlier this week tying purple ribbons around the trees in Forsyth Park. SAFE Shelter has been doing this in October for the past 10 years in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It’s our hope that the images of purple ribbons remind the community that domestic violence is an unfortunate part of our society and there are resources available to help victims.
So far this year, there have been two intimate partner deaths in Chatham County. While that number may sound low, consider that these two people died at the hands of someone they loved and trusted. As of September 1, there had been 45 domestic violence homicides in Georgia.
Domestic violence thrives in secrecy. Breaking that silence and providing some kind of intervention is the key to breaking the cycle of violence. Savannah is blessed with a rich network of agencies and trained professionals that stand waiting to help. All it takes is one phone call to start the process of saving a life.
A new program being implemented by the Savannah-Metropolitan Police Department and SAFE Shelter holds promise of providing life saving measures. Savannah is the only city in the state to be chosen to conduct the Lethality Assessment Program which was developed in Maryland. And our community is only one out of five in the nation to implement such a program.
SAFE Shelter staff and SMPD officers underwent special training to carry out the Lethality Assessment Program. Now, police officers responding to domestic violence calls conduct the lethality assessment with the victim to determine the level of danger to the victim. Officers then contact SAFE Shelter so a trained advocate can advise the victim of services. This partnership between SAFE Shelter and SMPD is effective because too often victims live with the abuse because they believe no one will help them and there will be no legal consequences for the abuser.
Along with police officers who receive hours of domestic vi olence training, Savannah has two attorneys the District Attorney’s Office that just prosecute felony domestic violence cases; the Victim Witness Assistance Program can offer support, advocacy and help with Victim Compensation applications; and The Coastal Childrens’ Advocacy Center is there for children caught in the middle of the violence. And every year, the Savannah-Chatham Family Violence Council co-sponsors a Faith Leaders Seminar to provide education and awareness to our churches and synagogues regarding services for all crime victims.
SAFE Shelter is open 24-hours a day, seven days a week to provide victims and their children a safe haven. All it takes is a phone call, 629-8888, to start breaking the cycle of violence.
Dear readers, take a long look at your daughters, mothers, sisters and friends. You would do anything to protect them and to keep them safe. We, as a community, need to be ready to do anything to keep each other safe. We all need to be the voice for those who do not have a voice.
So when you see the purple ribbons, think about the two deaths here and what we can do to make sure there are no more.
Cheryl Haven Branch