Last year in Georgia, 121 people were killed during domestic violence incidents. And policymakers are busy pushing policies that make people less safe, instead of addressing the prevalence of violence that already exists in too many of our communities.
Domestic violence, often called family violence in Georgia, is a type of violence — often a mix of physical, emotional, financial or sexual violence — used to exert power and control over a partner or family member.
This is such a serious problem and there simply isn’t enough being done. What’s more, all of the awful policies currently being pushed by our policymakers that target Muslims, refugees, undocumented people and transgender men and women serve to remind these vulnerable populations that our government is not invested in helping them or protecting them when they are fleeing domestic violence (or any violence for that matter).
When we turn the police into another enforcement branch of harsh immigration policies, undocumented people face additional barriers if they try to seek help when fleeing domestic violence situations. When transgender people continue to be targeted for violence, while people in power doing nothing, they are reminded no one in power thinks they are worth keeping safe, even if a partner is abusing them.
What’s more, there is a well-documented bias against women who attempt to defend themselves from their abusers. This is one of the extremely disturbing aspects of how gendered violence functions in this country, as is reflected in just how many women who are survivors of domestic violence end up incarcerated.
According to the ACLU, “nearly 60 percent of female state prisoners nation-wide and as many as 94 percent of certain female prison populations — have a history of physical or sexual abuse.”
Marissa Alexander — the Florida mother of three — grabbed national headlines for receiving a 20-year prison sentence when she fired a warning shot into the ceiling of her home, injuring no one, in an attempt to defend herself against her abusive husband. Survived and Punished documents the stories of women and LGBT people, so many of them people of color, who face overly harsh penalties when they attempt to protect themselves from someone who is hurting them.
Every year, the Georgia Commission on Family Violence (GCFV) and their partners review family violence fatalities, in order to to identify trends and recommend changes.
“In 2016 alone, we are aware of 121 Georgians who lost their lives during domestic violence incidents. Completed and attempted murder-suicide incidents accounted for 52 of those deaths. Knowing these incidents account for nearly half of all domestic violence-related deaths in our state, it is clear that our focus on this topic is necessary,” Jennifer Thomas, executive director of GCFV, said in a press release.
In addition to finding that murder-suicides are so prevalent in domestic violence fatalities, they also found that 62 percent of the victims were no longer in a relationship with the abuser. This speaks to the profound difficulty survivors have in maintaining safety for themselves even if they are able to leave, a process that is in and of itself fraught.
Last year in Georgia, 121 people were killed during domestic violence incidents, and politicians at the state and federal level are busy playing games.
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