On Monday, Georgia Mayor of Athens Clarke County, and Chairman of Oconee County signed their first ever joint declaration naming February 14, 2017, Valentine’s Day, as the Domestic Violence Task Force Appreciation Day. Noting that the earliest celebrations of St. Valentine’s day honored sacrifice, this is an appropriate way to celebrate the courageous hearts who work in the community, day in and day out, to stop domestic violence. Congratulations, Domestic Violence Task Force of Athens Clarke and Oconee Counties!
February 13, 2017 Athens Clarke County and Oconee County joint declaration of Domestic Violence Task Force Appreciation Day
“Thank you for this training, it was very informative. Sadly we had to put everything we learned into practice immediately as we got a strangulation victim at our shelter the next day.”
This is a direct quote from an email I received last week after our webinar presentation of training on strangulation assault. It stopped me cold. What a reminder – the needs are great!
It is our goal to serve those who are working to stop domestic violence, or intimate partner abuse, in their communities. In January, Georgia Lionhearts implemented a grant awarded to the Athens Clarke and Oconee Counties Domestic Violence Task Force. The need they identified for the community, the one they asked for our help to accomplish, was for training on strangulation assault, in light of the 2014 strangulation law change making strangulation a felony instead of a misdemeanor. Training was presented by experts explaining the law and legal implications, and the physiological signs and consequences of strangulation assault on a victim.
Though this grant was originally intended to create free training for the counties that this task force serves, the word spread, eventually reaching throughout the entire state of Georgia. More than 300 registrants signed up for the training, and ultimately more than 250 participants were trained, representing almost as many agencies and organizations. Among others, we trained:
- an entire school district in south Georgia
- an entire police department, who will use our training for the current force, and all future officers
- UGA campus police
- Cobb County Sheriff’s Office
- two universities
- The Salvation Army
- Department of Defense
- two military bases, including sergeants and all family agency leads
- family violence intervention programs
- prosecutors and family lawyers all over the state, including Georgia’s Prosecuting Attorney’s Council
- numerous social workers, therapists, nurses, and psychologists
- bachelors, masters and PhD candidates pursuing degrees in these various fields
The training was presented by the Athens Clarke and Oconee Counties Domestic Violence Task Force. It was hosted by Project Safe, Inc. of Athens, Georgia, and underwritten by Georgia Lionhearts. We are proud to serve Athens. It is a humbling honor to serve the men and women doing the work to stop violence, and heal families.
We found out last week that the IRS approved our application for nonprofit status. Our charity is now officially a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization!
Over the last five months, Georgia Lionhearts has been actively preparing for this January’s series of repeat webinars on Training on Strangulation Assault. When Lion Heart Society was founded in 2014, the very first pilot program was established in Athens Clarke County, Georgia. Back then, the task force expressed that their biggest need was for training around a law change making strangulation a felony. Georgia Lionhearts awarded a program grant to the Domestic Violence Task Force of Athens Clarke and Oconee Counties to underwrite the training. More than 100 volunteer hours went into preparation for this presentation, from Georgia Lionhearts volunteers, from experts providing presentation, and from the DVTF in promoting the event. This has been a fun group effort! Today we kick of the training for police, medical professionals, lawyers, law enforcement and others who will attend one of 12 presentations by three amazing experts every Tuesday, all month. At the time of this writing, we have more than 135 individuals signed up for the training on strangulation assault, including individuals from two military bases. While we likely will not support every partnered task force with individualized training, I am so proud to see this one take place. As a charity, this was our first grant commitment. It is an honor to work together with Joanne Prittie at Project Safe, Inc. of Athens, GA, with Attorney General C.R. Chisholm, with District Attorney Ken Mauldin and assistant Shannon Saulters, and with Tangela Beard of Project Safe, whose tireless work to her community is unsung heroism, and whose guidance in navigating our efforts has been priceless. I am also grateful for the amazing work of Garrett Bowers, Lion Heart Society’s magician technical editor.
Founding and growing this charity is a humbling, rewarding experience. In this season of Firsts, today is a day for celebration.
In my recent Letter-to-the-Editor at Baylor University’s Baylor Magazine, I grieved with my beloved undergraduate university and implored us all to respond to the abuse. We do not just need to respond, however, we must lead – by being present in our communities with willingness to talk about intimate partner abuse, by offering help to those in need, and by doing everything possible to support those whose work is first response to domestic violence. It is a plea to all, not just college campuses. Communities all across the United States need us to step up, respond, and not leave it to others to handle. We can impact change. We can help save lives.
C. Elizabeth Mason, Founder