Domestic violence to take flight Saturday

ALBANY, Ga. -- What better than a butterfly to symbolize the change a domestic violence victim hopes for?

To help open Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Southwest Georgia, Liberty House officials plan a butterfly release at the Ray Charles Plaza beginning at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

"I just thought that the butterflies would be a nice reminder of the hopes and changes victims go through as they move on with their lives," said Silke Deeley, executive director of Liberty House, an emergency shelter for victims and their families.

"Butterflies are just so beautiful, harmless, peaceful and calm. That is what victims have not had in their lives."

At least one domestic violence victim will be there to appreciate the butterflies, she said. Although it has been three years since she was divorced, she prefers The Herald not use her real name.

"My husband was physically abusive," Bonnie said. "I went to Liberty House and got a lot of emotional support, as well as financial advice."

Bonnie began to heal with the help of staff at Liberty House, she said. Once-a-week support group meetings with others who were also abused were extremely helpful.

"I thought I was all alone in this," Bonnie said. "I didn't know so many other women went through it. I thought it was just me."

Life has taken a better turn for Bonnie. She has a job and attends nursing school. She said her butterfly wings are opening for a better future.

Purple and white flags were planted on the Albany Mall's grounds Oct. 1 as part of Domestic Awareness Month.

"The purple flag display represents the number of victims served during 2009," Deeley said. "The white ones represent the number of homicides in Georgia related to domestic violence since September of 2009, 63 total. Five of them were from our 17-county, service area."

Other events planned through the month are:

Oct. 7: A "Pearls and Possibilities" gala at Doublegate Country Club. Tickets are $50 to celebrate Liberty House's 30 years of service.

Oct. 14: Lunch and learn by attending "The Faces of Domestic Violence" at Darton College from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Seating is limited, and it costs $7.

Oct. 21: "Shine the Light on Domestic Violence" a candlelight vigil and walk to bear silent witness. Victoria Williams, a victim and author, will speak at the Veterans Park Amphitheatre. It starts at 7 p.m.

More information is available by calling (229) 439-7094.