Groups encourage abused women to seek help, safety

One in three homicides of women is committed by a current or former spouse or partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

Tiffany Shantee Bush, of Girard, Ga., is in serious condition after a former boyfriend, with whom she had two children, shot her Tuesday morning in the parking lot of her workplace.

Alfonicia Oneal Gilbert, of Augusta, then killed himself.

Aimee Hall, the executive director of SafeHomes of Augusta, said domestic violence usually escalates.

"The more often it occurs, the more violent it gets," Hall said.

Often, she said an abuser will take an "if I can't have you, no one can" position.

Abuse tends to cycle, according to Cheryl Carswell, a counselor at GA Family Crisis Solutions Inc., in Martinez.

After the abuser acts out, he enters a "honeymoon stage" where he apologizes and promises never to do it again. But then anxiety builds again, and the abuse repeats itself, she said.

Domestic violence professionals recommend a victim seek assistance at the first sign of violence, but many victims put off getting help.

In many cases, Carswell said, the abuser will make the victim believe she deserved the violence.

Some, even after seeking outside help, will return to the abusive environment.

"It takes seven times for a victim to leave an abuser before she finally says enough," Hall said.

Hall recalled a woman five years ago who returned to an abusive relationship and ended up dead.

And if you're in a relationship with children, it's even more important to seek outside help.

"If a spouse will abuse their mate, they will abuse their children," Carswell said. "It's almost a given."

She recommended victims have a plan in the event they ever need to leave. Victims should leave a spare car key somewhere out of sight, have an overnight bag and money ready and have an escape plan.

SafeHomes provides housing for victims, assists with legal support and counseling to ensure victims remain safe.

Ex-girlfriend shot; man kills himself
Georgia abuse facts

In 2008, the rate of intimate partner victimizations for women was 4.3 per 1,000 age 12 and older. The rate for men age 12 and older was .8 victimizations per 1,000, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Georgia was ranked 13th in the nation for its rate of men killing women in 2007. Georgia was in the top 20 for all nine years of the survey.

Children witness 70 percent of domestic violence issues.

Source: SafeHomes of Augusta

Warning signs of abuse

AN ABUSER ...

- Limits who a victim sees or talks to

- Controls what a victim does

- Uses jealousy to justify acts

- Is emotionally abusive

- Humiliates the victim

- Makes threats (including threatening to leave or commit suicide)

- Prevents the victim from getting or keeping a job

- Defines men and women's roles

- Threatens to take the victim's children away

- Shifts responsibility for abusive behavior to the victim

- Intimidates the victim

RISK FACTORS FOR BEING ABUSIVE

- Low self esteem

- Low academic achievement

- Heavy alcohol or drug use

- Low income

- Depression

- Borderline or antisocial personality traits

- Unemployment

- Emotional dependency or insecurity

- Belief in strict gender roles

- Desire for power or control in a relationship

- Being a victim of physical or psychological abuse

- History or experiencing poor parenting or physical discipline as a child

Sources: Cheryl Carswell, of GA Family Crisis Solutions Inc.; Aimee Hall, of SafeHomes of Augusta; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Getting help

TEMPORARY PROTECTIVE ORDERS: An order from a judge prohibiting the abuser from having contact with the victim; the abuse must be a repeat. For information, call the Richmond County Superior Court Clerk's Office at (706) 821-2460.

SAFEHOMES OF AUGUSTA: Provides counseling, a domestic abuse hotline at (706) 736-2499, shelter and relocation assistance, cell phones for emergency calls and assistance with legal issues.

Source: SafeHomes of Augusta