Domestic violence grips Southwest Georgia

Example of the cycle of abuse

In the wake of the recent homicides in Southwest Georgia involving domestic violence, some are asking if law enforcement is doing enough to protect victims of abuse.

According to statistics, 1 in 3 women nationally will face abuse in their lifetime and at least one local organization thinks police should be doing more to prevent it.

"It is not enough just to give people a card," said Silke Deeley of Liberty House, a crisis center for women in abusive relationships.

She thinks officers, like those that responded to the repeated calls at 2414 Habersham, don't go far enough in explaining the options available to victims.

"If all they're hearing in the moment is, 'well, we want you to leave your house and we want you to go to a shelter,' then we're just re-victimizing them," said Deeley.

Liberty House's Katalina Valdes suggests making follow-up wellness checks standard operating procedure for police and including a victims' advocate in those follow-up calls to help break the cycle of abuse.

"Unless someone goes up to you and tells you, 'this is wrong, this is not normal,' you'll never know that," said Valdes.

Liberty House and other crisis centers like it prefer to keep their physical location a secret. It's not just to protect the women that use the shelter but also to give them the chance to heal and make plans for the future.

Valdes saw firsthand how difficult it can be to escape abuse and find help â" she, her mother, and her four siblings suffered years of abuse by their stepfather and even helped cover it up.

"We were very well-behaved," said Valdes. "We did well in school. We didn't act out in school. I mean, we were model children. Our parents were always praised for how well-behaved we were."

Officials with Liberty House also want people to be aware of the warning signs that someone is potentially abusive â" a person who wants a serious relationship very quickly, who is very controlling or jealous, or engages in any kind of stalking.