A reluctant butterfly rests on the arm of Patricia Phillips, bilingual advocate for Liberty House of Albany, and advocacy group for victims of domestic violence. The butterflies were released Wednesday as a symbol of freedom from imprisonment and to acknowledge October as national domestic violence awareness month. (Staff photo: Jim West)
ALBANY — For the seventh straight year, Liberty House of Albany released butterflies Wednesday from a decorated cardboard box. Some of the colorful, winged insects were reluctant to take flight, but with some loving encouragement, plus a solid thump to the bottom of the box, the beautiful bugs flew out to freedom.
According to Silke Deeley, executive director of Liberty House, an advocacy group for victims of domestic violence, the butterfly represents the metamorphosis of human beings, trapped in a chrysalis type confinement, to finally gain the confidence and independence to soar under their own power.
Following the release on the grounds of Darton State College’s Student Center, about 75 Liberty House supporters attended a luncheon, also at the center, where Mayor Dorothy Hubbard read a document officially proclaiming October to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Albany.
Speaker for the luncheon event was Dougherty Circuit Superior Court Judge Denise Marshall, a longtime advocate for victims of domestic violence and a member of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence. The commission is a 26-member group that includes a judge from every judicial district, as well as representatives from the Attorney General’s Office, social services and others.
“We’re doing a lot,” Marshall said. “But despite all that we are doing, Georgia is ranked 10th in the nation (for family violence rated homicides). That’s not good. We are making progress, but it’s not good enough.”
Marshall said the mission of ending domestic violence won’t be accomplished without “more troops on the ground.”
“We must convince each and every member of this community that they can make difference in the solution,” Marshall said.
Following Marshall, Dr. JaNee Mobley gave a brief address on her experiences as a survivor of domestic violence.
“We had a great crowd here today, but when we think about the population here in Albany, we should be having people just everywhere — a lot more than the 75 who were here today,” Deeley said. “In the scheme of things that’s not a great percentage.
“In order for this community to thrive and make an impact, public support is critical.Victims come to this event, and if they don’t see law enforcement here, if they don’t see judges, attorneys and people in the judicial system who have an impact on what happens to them, how do they feel supported?”
According to their website, libertyhouseofalbany.com, the organization provides a number of services for domestic violence victims, including emergency shelter, support grounds, legal and individual advocacy and bilingual services.