Domestic violence forum held at health fair

ALBANY -- Domestic violence is a tough crime to prosecute, but in the Dougherty Judicial Circuit it will be strenuously prosecuted, officials said at a domestic violence forum Saturday.

Sometimes for reasons such as economic dependence, emotional dependence and other reasons victims do not wish to have their abusers arrested and tried, said Greg Edwards, district attorney.

"The case load has been whittled down from 900 cases last October, but we have more coming in each day. I can't say exactly how many we have going on," Edwards said. "When we prosecute we are typically successful. Our plan is that we are not going to drop any cases. We'll persist with all the evidence we have."

Edwards and his office specialist in domestic violence cases, attorney Victoria Johnson, spoke at the South Slapped Boulevard office of the Dougherty County Health Department.

The forum was part of a health fair and lecture series held in cooperation with the Albany Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

"It is domestic violence awareness month and also cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and stroke awareness month," said Adult Health Director Vamella lovett. "We put them all together to give out information."

Another connection that linked domestic violence to the health fair was the economic cost of the brutality domestic abusers inflict on the public, Johnson said.

"Nationally the economic impact of domestic violence is $5.8 billion," Johnson said. "Of that $4.1 billion is for direct medical services."

The forum also featured Patricia Dawson, of Liberty House, a shelter and advocacy organization for domestic abuse victims.

She told the brutal story of her own and her sibling's abuse by her father. She found a way out of her situation and now works to help others.

In the audience of more than 30 women and a few men heads nodded knowingly during her story of abuse.

Information at the forum was available on the resources available to victims of domestic abuse. Further help can be found at the following numbers: Liberty House 24-hour crisis line, (229) 439-7065; the district attorney victim's crisis line (229) 432-8181; Georgia Legal Services (229) 430-4261; and the national domestic abuse hotline (800) 799-Safe (7233). Use 911 in an immediate emergency.