It was a solemn occasion Tuesday night in front of the historic courthouse in downtown Newnan as nearly 70 people attended Coweta County’s first candlelight vigil honoring the victims of domestic violence.
The event was held to honor the people in Coweta and across Georgia who have been killed as a result of domestic violence, to support urvivors and victims who suffer in silence and to bring awareness to the problem, organizers said.
The event was sponsored by the Coweta County Domestic Violence Task Force. Helping to spearhead the event were victim advocate Melissa Sizemore and Senior Assistant Solicitor Natalie Ashman, both on staff with the Coweta County Solicitor General.
The keynote speaker at the event was Coweta County Juvenile Judge Joe Wyant, who spoke about the tragic experiences of one Coweta County woman.
“You have to support the local organizations, whether financially or with (items such as) food or clothing,” Wyant said at the conclusion of his remarks. “Any help is appreciated.”
Along with inspirational stories and musical selections, the evening included a remembrance ceremony with lit candles and the reading of the names of those who lost their lives in domestic violence. Nearly 70 people in Georgia were killed in domestic violence incidents in the past year.
Georgia is ranked 10th in the nation for the rate at which men kill women in single-victim homicides, most of which are domestic violence-related murders, according to the 2012 Georgia Domestic Violence Fatality Review. One of those deaths occurred in Coweta County and another took place in Fayette County.
The statistics on domestic violence are staggering. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year, according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice. Of all the women murdered in the U.S., nearly one-third were killed by an intimate partner, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
And the financial cost of intimate partner violence nationally exceeds $8.3 billion each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Perhaps not always figured into the cost is the impact on children. Every year, more than three million children witness domestic violence in their homes. And that violence is most likely to occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., according to safehorizon.org.
Just as staggering as the numbers on domestic violence is the reality that most domestic violence cases are never reported to law enforcement.