In Fayette County, the Promise Place center approaches the reality of domestic violence in a variety of ways, and to meet community needs the non-profit organization is ready to start up a support group in Fayetteville that will compliment the existing group in Peachtree City.
Not everyone subjected to domestic violence contacts Promise Place or law enforcement, so there is no clear way to determine the actual numbers of those affected, said Promise Place Director Vanessa Mottley and counselor Helen Branch. But in 2009 there were 867 victims of domestic violence that did contact the staff at Promise Place.
Branch, who serves as a Promise Place advocate and counselor, will be heading the new women’s support group in Fayetteville, expected to be up and running in the next few weeks. Participation in the ongoing Peachtree City group has increased to the point of needing one in Fayetteville, Branch said.
The support group functions to help women open up about their experiences and get comfortable with talking. When they realize this is a safe place, they open up and talk without being judged, Branch said.
“Nobody in the group will judge them,” Branch said of the expanded need for domestic violence services and the results that can come from those efforts. “I know the value of helping people feel whole.”
Mottley said support groups help victims learn how to both understand the cycle of violence and avoid falling back into the trappings of violence. People can help change the face of domestic violence, Mottley and Branch insisted, by altering their behavior. And that is where Promise Place comes in.
In terms of counties in the United States with the highest median household income in 2009 Fayette ranked #15 in the nation, less than $100 per year behind Marin County, Calif. (Census 2000).
Yet in Fayette County last year Promise Place alone served 867 victims of domestic violence. The actual number of victims may never be known since, as in communities nationwide, many never report domestic violence or seek the services of an organization geared to leading assistance to its outcomes.
Of those seen by Promise Place in 2009, 86.6 percent were female and 13.4 percent were male. And of those numbers, 49.5 percent were abused by a spouse and 48 percent had past police involvement, Mottley said.
Specific to the cases during 2009, Mottley said 82.4 percent involved emotional or psychological abuse, 57.3 percent involved physical abuse, 19.8 percent were accompanied by the destruction of property, 14.5 percent of victims were confined and 13.7 percent included the threat or use of weapons.
Pertaining to other upcoming efforts by Promise Place, Mottley said another program now in development is GRITO (translated “shout”) for the Hispanic community. Promise Place will be working with Holy Trinity Catholic Church to introduce the program.
Promise Place will be working with the non-profit Chayil, Inc. to help women use art to express the domestic violence-related issues they have encountered.
Branch, who currently provides a program for women in the Fayette County Jail, is also developing a new program in the Spalding County Jail for women who come from abusive relationships. The idea of the effort, said Branch, is to promote healthy relationships, teach life skills and self-esteem and prevent future incarceration.
Promise Place is still in need of assistance in renovating its transitional home for women and children.
For more information on Promise Place or to offer assistance with its various programs and needs call 770-461-3839 or visit www.promiseplace.org.