Domestic Violence in Savannah: 10 Truths You May Not Know About Domestic Violence
10 Truths You May Not Know About Domestic Violence
By Cheryl Branch
Every October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) is observed in events across the country and right here in Savannah to bring to light an issue that effects our community in a staggering way. DVAM is an opportunity for SAFE Shelter Center for Domestic Violence Services of Savannah (SAFE Shelter) to connect with our community through meaningful outreach and awareness raising events.
Domestic violence knows no boundaries. It occurs in every culture and country, affecting individuals from all educational, socioeconomic and religious backgrounds. Victims include the young and the old. While these facts are commonly understood and accepted, the public remains unaware that local help is available at SAFE Shelter and the majority of domestic violence cases are never reported to the police.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) defines domestic violence as a pattern of behaviors where one person in the relationship uses physical, emotional and other means to maintain control of the victim. Intervention is critical in breaking the cycle of violence.
SAFE Shelter and its Outreach Program provides legal advocacy, Temporary Protective Orders, and support for those victims who don’t require shelter. No fees are charged for any services. Victims often feel no one will believe them; however, SAFE Shelter networks reach out to the District Attorney’s Office, Victim Witness Assistance, and police.
As a community, we are responsible for being that collective voice for those who have no voice.
In an effort to shed light on a this topic, here are ten key facts about domestic violence and SAFE Shelter’s services to those victims in our community that may be helpful to you or someone you know:
1. Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police (SCMPD) responded to 3,696 domestic disturbance calls in 2014. In the United States, more than 10 million women and men are physically abused each year.
2. In 2014, SAFE Shelter Center for Domestic Violence Services received 1,037 crisis calls. Statistically, one in three women and one in four men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
3. The economic impact is astounding – victims of domestic violence lose approximately eight million days of paid work each year and many victims lose their jobs due to the stress and illness from this epidemic. SAFE Shelter provides counseling, referrals children’s, advocacy programs and weekly support groups to assist victims of domestic violence and their children.
4. In 2014, SAFE Shelter Center for Domestic Violence provided services to 695 victims, including 383 children. Statistics show that many children exposed to domestic violence will grow up to be abusers themselves and will continue the cycle. SAFE Shelter hopes to break this cycle by offering education and counseling aid to clients.
5. SAFE Shelter is certified by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and offers assistance with Temporary Protective Orders (TPO) and Stalking Orders. In 2014, SAFE Shelter helped secure 58 TPOs; providing protective services to 162 victims, including 74 children.
6. Half of all abusive relationships start between the ages of 13-24. SAFE Shelter offers anger management programs for elementary school children and dating violence programs for middle and high school students.
7. SAFE Shelter also offers prevention training programs, including “When domestic violence comes to work,” and “Identifying domestic violence victims in a medical setting.”
8. SAFE Shelter Center for Domestic Violence Services is open 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, and offers an off-site Outreach Program to assist victims who do not require shelter.
9. SAFE Shelter’s 48-bed shelter is the largest domestic violence shelter outside the greater Atlanta area.
10. No fees are ever charged for any of SAFE Shelter’s services. The crisis line, (912) 629-8888, is answered 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please know there is help. Recognizing that abuse is present is the first step for any victim and then telling someone he or she trusts. Once the abused has decided enough is enough, finding a safe, secure location is the next crucial step.
If you have real concern about someone close to you, approach the individual in a private setting and refrain from being judgmental. Your care and support may be the key to saving someone’s life or helping the person escape from an abusive relationship.
Domestic violence shelters are available, providing a safe haven for the victim. SAFE Shelter Center for Domestic Violence Services of Savannah has been helping individuals protect themselves and make a positive change for 35 years. The 24-hour crisis line, 912.629.8888, is always available for those in need, 365 days a year. During its 35 year history, approximately 21,000 victims and their children have come through its doors, and no one actively involved in any of its programs has been killed by their abusive partner.
The location of the shelter remains confidential and basic living necessities are provided. In addition, services such as support groups, courtroom advocacy and protective orders are provided at no cost to a victim of domestic violence.
Keep in mind, domestic violence does not always look the same. Awareness and education are important keys to stopping the cycle.
In the time it took you to read this article, approximately twelve women were beaten in the U.S. Yes, this statistic is shocking. And yes, the effects of domestic violence are far-reaching in our communities. The problem is not going away easily and change happens slowly, one step at a time. For more information on this topic, visit safeshelter.org
Cheryl Branch is the Executive Director at SAFE Shelter Center for Domestic Violence Services . Previously, Cheryl has worked at the Amity House, a domestic violence shelter in Brunswick. She has also served as the Women’s Health Educator for the Glynn County Health Department and a social worker at the Memorial Medical Center. She has helped victims of domestic violence at SAFE Shelter for almost 20 years.