By Joel Hall
Every year in America, nearly 1.3 million women are the victims of physical abuse.
With October being National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Clayton County Community Services (CCCS) and Clayton County Head Start are hosting a resource fair to show how domestic violence impacts the entire community.
On Thursday, Oct. 16, from 2-4 p.m., the Strengthening Families Resource Fair will take place at Clayton County Head Start, located at 667 South Ave., in Forest Park. The event, which is geared toward single parents and young families, will bring together several local and state agencies focused on preventing domestic violence before it starts.
Clayton County Head Start, an arm of CCCS, provides pre-school services to 352 families, and daycare services for 52 families receiving public assistance in the Southern Crescent.
Deborah Minter, CCCS program developer, said having the resource fair at Head Start will benefit many young parents coming to pick up their children from school.
"Domestic violence impacts people across socio-economic lines," said Minter. "However, families at risk have high stressors in their life, such as a lack of money.
"I have discovered that there is a lot of help out there, but it may not be well-known," Minter continued. "We are just trying to bridge the gap in services."
The fair will feature representatives from lega-aid agencies, the Georgia Department of Labor, Georgia Adult Protection Services, the Forest Park Ministerial Association, Securus House, and several other organizations.
Pat Altemus, executive director of Securus House, a shelter for battered women and their children, said the earlier the information can be given to families, the better.
"We talk about safety planning ... how to leave an abusive relationship and still be safe, what you need to have packed at all times," said Altemus.
She said copies of vital documents -- such as social security cards, birth certificates, medical records, children's vaccination and school records, and medicine prescriptions -- should always be kept in a grab-and-go location.
"Wherever you go, you are going to need those things," said Altemus. "They should be easily accessible, if one needs to leave. Not having those things can hold up a lot of processes."
Altemus said the fair also will address the less publicized epidemics of male-victims and elder abuse. Options for male and elderly victims of abuse will be shared.
"We let men know that they can call shelters and receive services," said Altemus. "They cannot be housed at shelters for women and children, but we do provide alternative housing. Many times, the elders don't recognize that they have legal rights and they don't want to get the police involved because of a moral issue. We help them understand that it is a legal issue, and should be handled by the legal system.
"A large part of the population doesn't know that there are resources available to them," said Altemus. "We are trying to bring awareness to as many people as we can at one time."
For more information, call (404) 363-0575.