In the last year, more than 800 calls placed to the local domestic violence hotline resulted in the discovery of more than 200 Dawson County victims of domestic violence.
“Many of you may never have witnessed domestic violence,” said NOA, No One Alone, Executive Director Marina Barron, speaking last week to the Dawson County Rotary Club. “But it is out there, in this nation, this state, your community.”
A partially state funded, non-profit organization, NOA provides emergency shelter for women and children who are the victims of domestic violence in both Dawson and Lumpkin counties.
In addition to shelter from physical and emotional violence, NOA also provides victims with food, clothing, transportation, medicine and personal necessities to enable them the opportunity to make changes in their lives.
“It’s ideal that victims stay in the shelter for about three months, so we can help them get their lives in order. We help them find jobs, places to live and also have access to small grants to help them with legalities, such as protective orders and if they need to get a divorce,” Barron said.
According to statistics released in 2004, Georgia is seventh in the nation for states where men kill women, Barron said.
“Providing domestic violence prevention and services is very important to prevent homicide and keep our communities safe,” Barron said.
Working with law enforcement, the department of family and children services and other local organizations, NOA also provides services to women, children and men experiencing domestic violence, but that do not need to stay in a shelter.
NOA has been working with a local mother and teacher, whose name is being withheld to protect her identity in an ongoing child custody dispute, through her seven-year battle with an ex-husband.
“I want people to know it doesn’t stop when you leave,” she said.
But NOA was her way out. “They’ve always been there for me with the legal issues and financially and by providing shelter for me when I left. They also gave me counseling to help me figure out this is not going to get any better (if she stayed in the relationship).”
She now volunteers with NOA to travel throughout the community telling her story, encouraging other women in similar situations to take charge.
“It’s kind of like you’re brainwashed to stay. I want people to know it can happen to anyone,” she said.
Dependent on donations from the community, NOA forges ahead with the goal to connect victims with safe shelter and support services as the economy continues its downslide.
“This year is going to be hard,” said Barron. “We don’t have a set budget. We have to collect donations to operate.”
NOA’s inaugural charity golf tournament was held Monday at Chestatee Golf Club in Dawson County to raise money to ensure “no one” has to return to a violent situation. Results of the golf tournament were not available as of press time.
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.