Domestic violence is the cause of two murders in two days - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Domestic violence is the cause of two murders in two days

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June 19, 2006

Albany -- Two recent murders aren't a shock to people who work with domestic violence victims every day. Albany's battered women's shelter, Liberty House, receives nearly 100 calls for help each month. And leaving isn't always an easy solution to the abuse.    

That's because many women are murdered by their partner soon after they ended the relationship. Liberty House Director Silke Deeley says the break-up forces the abuser to relinquish control, which often sends the partner into a violent rage.      

Twenty-eight-year old Travis Smith remains in jail without bond for shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend Friday afternoon. Twenty-five-year-old Tasha George, a Dougherty County jailer, was gunned down outside her Temple Avenue home.

Another man who was with him was not charged. In May, Smith was arrested for pushing George through a glass table.

And, Forty-year-old Lawanda Dawson is accused of killing 51-year-old Alfred Sutton who was found dead in his trailer on Clark Avenue Saturday. Dawson has previously been in trouble for simple battery and battery. Coroner Emma Quimbley says Sutton was hit in the head. Sutton and Dawson did not live together, but police believe they were in a relationship.

These are shocking murders for most, but an unfortunate reality for Silke Deeley.  

"We served more than 2,500 women last year," says Liberty House Director Deeley. "Every nine seconds, in this country, some women is being abused." Deeley says.

Liberty House, Albany's battered women's shelter, is almost always full of women who are escaping abusive relationships.    

Here are some signs a relationship may turn violent:

  • A partner isolates you from family and friends
  • He wants to control what you do and when you do it
  • He's overly jealous, and says it's just because he cares
  • And he's emotionally or physiological abusive.  

"Is this person adding something to your life or are they taking something away? It's not necessarily physical violence that begins the process. It's the emotional and psychological damage that occurs prior to any physical violence," says Deeley.

Deeley believes stricter laws will prevent domestic violence murders and advocates felony charges for first time offenders.  "How does law enforcement respond to these women? If they've gone out on ten calls, clearly there is a problem. Why is the man not in jail? Why are we pleading down cases? How much teeth is really in the law that we are using," says Deeley.

She says until abusers are behind bars, victims are never safe. "The ultimate control is that if I can't have you, no one will. When you're dead, then I'm in charge forever." Or a victim fights back and kills the abuser.  "There are a lot of women in general who decide they've had enough." Either way, the relationship escalates to murder.    

Silke Deeley says if you think someone if being abused, tell them you know they are in trouble and you're there to help. This gesture is sometimes enough to convince the victim to leave and get help.

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