Domestic violence is often suffered in silence. But there is local help available.
A 24-hour crisis line, emergency shelter, transitional shelter, help with temporary protective orders and legal proceedings, support groups and counseling, help with budgeting and job training, and programs for children are among the services offered by the Carroll County Emergency Shelter.
Though the shelter and the bulk of the programs are in Carroll County, the shelter serves Coweta, Meriwether, Heard and Haralson counties as well.
There is a satellite office in Coweta at the Coweta County Justice Center that is staffed five days a week. Local women can get help with protective orders and referrals to the services they need, said Martha Boyce, executive director of CCES.
Logan Dixon, who staffs the local office is capable of handling legal advocacy and point them in the right direction if they need safe shelter, Boyce said. “And she’ll do her best to arrange transportation for them through law enforcement."
To reach the Coweta office, call 678-343-3341.
In Heard County, there is an advocate for a few hours one day a week, and Boyce said they’re working on expanding those services in Heard and in other counties.
“It pleases me to know that women and children have the opportunity to not feel like they have to live in what they’re living in,” Boyce said. “We’ve got to do everything in the world we can to stop it."
When domestic violence situations involve children, Boyce said they want to intervene as early as possible because it’s a learned behavior. “With children, if we can intervene early enough, even if they’ve witnessed it sometimes, it makes a huge difference in their life.
“If there isn’t an intervention for them, so many of them will grow up and repeat this same pattern in their lives,” she said.
Many times women who stay in abusive relationships grew up in a home with domestic violence.
“I’ve had women say, ‘I always thought that all men were like that,’” Boyce said. So when their husbands or boyfriends are violent, it doesn’t seem all that different from when their fathers would hit them or scream at them, she said.
Some women are able to get back on their feet quickly, or are only at the shelter while they arrange to move to be near their parents or other family members, while others need a little more help.
The shelter has 18 beds, and there is also the transition facility with eight efficiency apartments. The transition house is for women who no longer need the emergency shelter but aren’t quite ready to live on their own.
While at the shelter or transitional house, the women can get help to improve their education, their job skills, and other skills so that they can support themselves. Boyce said they shouldn't feel like they have to go back to an abusive situation just to make a living or feed their children.
“I think it’s wonderful to see a woman who didn’t know how to manage a budget and how to keep a budget and to see her manage it. And for her to see that – yes, you can do this. You can,” Boyce said.
The programs are available for those in the shelter as well as for people who aren’t living in the shelter but need the services, Boyce said.
Though the programs are primarily offered in Carrollton, Boyce said her organization would like to be able to coordinate with another agency and possibly send CCES staff to offer some of the programs in other areas.
Boyce and other CCES staff raise awareness of the issue and the services through various speaking engagements.
“We do a lot of public speaking, and we do a lot of talking in the churches and to the community at large,” Boyce said. She said she wants to take every opportunity she can to educate the community.
“Because even though domestic violence is on the television all the time and even though you read about it all the time, it’s still the best-kept secret in the world,” Boyce said.
She recalled a woman at her church who was frequently beaten and abused by her husband. Boyce went to church with them for years and never had a clue – “and I worked every day in domestic violence,” Boyce said.
Once Boyce found out what was going on, the woman said that her husband had told her no one would believe her if she told that he was abusing her, because he was so well-respected in the church and community.
“When you're told everything is your fault and everything is always negative about you and everything in the home is negative – then you begin to see yourself like that,” Boyce said.
Abusers can look like everybody else, she said. They can be nice-looking or ugly. They can be highly respected, professional men. “They can be your doctor, be your pastor. Be anyone,” Boyce said.
And domestic abusers aren’t always male. There are women who abuse the men in their lives, or their female partners. And sometimes women who are abused by their husbands or boyfriends turn around and hurt their kids.
“This sounds awful, but she will abuse her children. It’s because of the anger and frustration and all the other things that trickle down,” Boyce said.
Boyce said she particularly likes to speak to men about domestic violence. “I always tell them – look at your sweet daughter tonight and you remember that the way you treat her momma – she is going to marry a man that is going to treat her the same way.”
The Coweta satellite office opened in late December of 2017. The local support has been tremendous, Boyce said. “It has been a real pleasure for us to be in Coweta."
If you are experiencing domestic violence and need help, call the CCES crisis line at 770-834-1141. The crisis line is staffed 24/7/365.
For more information about the shelter or to arrange for a speaker to come to your organization, call the administrative line at 770-834-9178.
You can reach the Coweta satellite office at 678-343-3341 or visit room 1500 at the Coweta County Justice Center, 72 Greenville St., Newnan.