Domestic violence climbs sharply - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Domestic violence climbs sharply

Albany-- One in three women is physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend. Last year, reports of domestic violence went up more than 60% in Albany.

But rising numbers aren't always bad news.

Each year, advocates at Liberty House Shelter release balloons to remember the victims of domestic violence. The shelter has been full since January, and Director Silke Delley fears there will be more balloons dotting the skies this year. "We've had to turn away 15 people this week. That's a problem because these woman have no place to go."

But Delley hopes that a full house doesn't mean an increase in domestic violence. "But, maybe what we're seeing is people understanding that this is a crime and making more phone calls. I would like to think because we've been more visible in the community that's made an impact."

Albany Police Department crime statistics show more people are calling to report domestic violence, and a zero tolerance policy allows law enforcement to make an arrest if the victims doesn't want to press charges. "That way we don't have to come back later and handle something that would actually be worse," says Lt. Tracy Barnes of APD.

A 24 hour mandatory jail time allows the abuser to cool off, and more importantly allows the victim to get to safety. "I'm am positive that it has made an impact, because we're not seeing as many homicides. That number has been reduced nationally."

There were fewer homicides in 2004 in Albany, so hopefully next year the balloons will fly in honor or domestic violence survivors not victims.

This year's domestic violence statistics may also be higher because of new laws which requires people caught abusing their spouse in front of children to also be charged with child endangerment.

posted by dave.miller@walb.com

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