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Anti-family violence campaign starts

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Securus House has launched a month-long domestic violence awareness and education campaign, soliciting support and giving out purple ribbons.

"At Securus House," said Milrinette Nelson, president of the board of trustees, "we understand that, to be more than a temporary solution to the problem, we must address violence on all levels. We must educate the community at all levels. This philosophy is the foundation of our purple ribbon campaign."

Securus House has given support, shelter, counseling and advocacy, to the victims of domestic violence, in Clayton County and the metro Atlanta area, for the last 23 years. For the month of October, they will try to increase awareness of domestic violence, starting with a balloon release at the Harold R. Banke Justice Center on Tara Boulevard Monday at 11:30 a.m., and ending, on Oct. 30, with a Bowl-A-Thon at Pin Strikes in Stockbridge.

Domestic violence statistics are believed to be low, because so much of it isn't reported. Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner told officials gathered at the campaign kick-off that his officers received 11,814 domestic disturbance calls last year. More than 2,000 of the calls escalated into violence, the chief said.

"Because of those statistics, I thank God for Securus House," Turner said. "Domestic violence should not happen to anybody, ever, but if it does, and when it does, there's help."

Evelyn Wynn-Dixon, the mayor of Riverdale, said violence does happen at many levels, and with many layers, but she urged special concern for mental abuse.

"If someone gets inside your mind, it can change your whole lifestyle," the mayor said. "Somebody tells you you're fat and ugly long enough, 'til you walk with your head down, submissive to abuse ... There are all types of abuse, which is why I've personally made a commitment to instill self-esteem wherever I go and speak."

A Riverdale proclamation, recognizing the month of awareness, notes that abuse doesn't just hurt the victims, but the family, and strong families are indispensable to a community.

The project, of "eradicating family violence," is a long-term one, lasting longer than the month of October. But Barbara Lapeen said the month of awareness events is a great time to join.

"Join us as we try to change some attitudes," Lapeen said. "One day, if not in my lifetime, we will eliminate family violence."