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Georgia Attorney General deplores 2010 domestic violence deaths | News

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Georgia Attorney General deplores 2010 domestic violence deaths
News, People, Politics
Georgia Attorney General deplores 2010 domestic violence deaths

ATLANTA -- Attorney General Sam Olens has joined the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Georgia Commission on Family Violence to issue the 7th annual Domestic Violence Fatality Review Report.

The Report analyzes homicides and near-deadly results, provides strategies for ending domestic violence and spotlights communities that have successfully implemented recommendations from previous reports.

"Domestic violence is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in Georgia," said Olens. "I appreciate the important role that the Georgia Commission on Family Violence and its partners play in raising awareness of domestic violence and offering concrete recommendations for reducing its occurrence in our communities. This report provides a call to action and a roadmap to preventing more senseless tragedies."

In the past eight years, 962 Georgians have lost their lives due to domestic violence.

In addition, the Violence Policy Center shows that, despite decreasing homicides by more than two times that of the national average, Georgia still ranks tenth in the country for its rate at which men kill women in single-victim homicides, most of which are domestic violence murders.

Judge Peggy Walker, chair of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, thanked Olens for joining.

"The 2010 Report focuses on distances or obstacles between victims and what they need for safety and protection, including gaps in knowledge, systems and services," Walker said. "Fatality review teams chose a fraction of the cases from across the state to conduct in depth reviews of domestic violence deaths by looking at all of the official records of law enforcement and the courts, and then going beyond the records to interview family, friends and coworkers of the deceased victim."

One major finding of the Report illustrates a gap between domestic violence resources and victims.

Since 2004, only 18 percent of the victims in the reviewed fatalities were connected with a domestic violence agency.

"The overwhelming majority of victims who were not connected to a domestic violence service program tells us that we all need to help victims access services," said Nicole Lesser, executive director of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "It also tells us that we have to work with legislators to continue and expand funding for these services."

Frank Mack, the chair of Houston and Bibb Counties' domestic violence fatality review teams, decided to focus on another theme of the report -- teen dating violence.

He revealed that in over half of the reviewed cases (52 percent), the victims were between the ages of 16 and 24 when they began the relationships with the partners who eventually killed them. A prime example is a Clayton County 16-year-old who was recently murdered by her boyfriend.

This fits in with national research that says one out of every three American teenage girls is a victim of verbal, emotional or physical abuse from her partner.

Mack is advocating for change to protect Georgia teenagers from abuse or death.

"The issue of teen dating violence is increasing in our community," he said. "We have both a legal and moral responsibility to pool our community resources to develop a support system to help our young people appropriately address this serious issue."

The Domestic Violence Fatality Review Report may be accessed online.

Call 1-800-33-HAVEN for a free 24-hour confidential place to get help or find domestic violence resources.

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