Dear Decaturish – Women’s Resource Center creates safe future for domestic violence survivorsJean Douglas, executive director of the Women’s Resource Center
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Each October, the Decatur-based Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence (WRCDV), hosts a candlelight vigil. In 2022, we read the names of 212 Georgians killed by abusers – a 49% increase from the previous year. Last year, we answered 4,295 calls to our 24-Hour Dating and Domestic Violence Hotline. There is also an untold number of those experiencing abuse who are too frightened to reach out or who don’t know that resources exist to help them.
We can’t be daunted by these numbers but instead must be propelled by them to make a difference. Our advocacy and outreach efforts help us reach survivors who need us, and our variety of programs provide resources to help survivors to create a safe future for themselves and their families.
Our story began in June of 1985, when Gwendolyn Ann Turnbough, mother of renowned poet Natasha Tretheway, was working with the DeKalb County District Attorney to protect herself from an abusive ex-husband. Upon his release from jail, her former husband immediately tracked her down. One morning, as she was leaving for work, he shot and killed her in the presence of their eleven-year-old son. That same month, Commissioner Sherry Schulman established the DeKalb County Domestic Violence Task Force to investigate the issue in DeKalb County. After several months of study, the Task Force determined a need for additional domestic violence resources, system changes, and a greater emphasis on community education. To meet that need, the county granted $10,000 to create a victim service agency, and the Women’s Resource Center was born. Since then, we’ve helped thousands of survivors from DeKalb County and beyond.
In 2022, we served 5,491 women, children, and other survivors through our many programs, including our safe house, transitional housing, support groups, and legal advocacy. We also work to prevent future violence through community education and our inspiring work with children and teens. We also get to bear witness to amazing success stories of survivors transforming their lives. This year, we celebrated with Chloe, who bought her own home only four years after domestic violence made her homeless. She found refuge at our Safe House to escape an abusive partner, then went on to our transitional housing program. Through her hard work and dedication, and with our support, Chloe has transformed her life for herself and her son.
Our programming also has an impact on Chloe’s son and other children who have witnessed abuse. Currently taking place is Camp PEACE, our eight-week violence prevention summer camp, held at Decatur’s Holy Trinity Parish Episcopal Church. Based on principles of Peace Education and Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning, the camp teaches children alternatives to violence while promoting tolerance, impartiality, affection, self-compassion and compassion for others. More than 50 children attend each year and last year we expanded the age range to include teens at their request. They looked forward to returning, despite our fear that they would outgrow us. The need for support for those affected by domestic abuse is ongoing, and we’re proud to have the trust of these children, and their moms, as we help equip them for a healthier future.
As we prepare for our annual fundraiser, Champions for Change, it’s a privilege to honor The Home Depot’s Legal Department, led by Teresa Wynn Roseborough, and to have such outstanding members of the community as our event chairs: Melba Hughes of Major, Lindsey & Africa and Allegra Lawrence-Hardy of Lawrence & Bundy. It’s empowering each year to gather with so many of our friends who are committed to supporting survivors and helping us work toward our goal of a world without violence.
It’s not just those at our gala who are making a difference, but also community volunteers. We offer hands-on and behind-the-scenes volunteer opportunities at our Decatur community office as well as our other locations. As the need for our services has grown, so has our need for new volunteers and supporters. With the time, talent and treasures offered by so many who care, we hope there will be far fewer names of those we’ve lost to domestic violence to be read at our candlelight vigil this year.
Learn more about our work by visiting our website at www.wrcdv.org. If you or someone you know may be experiencing domestic violence, our advocates can be reached 24/7 at 404-688-9436. All calls are confidential.
— Jean Douglas, executive director of the Women’s Resource Center
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