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Solicitor: Domestic violence up in down economy

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

A sour economy is bringing more domestic violence cases to the Clayton County solicitor's office, Solicitor General Tasha Mosley said.

"More and more of our victims are not what we would call our typical domestic violence victims. It's arguments over bills because tempers have flared," said Mosley.

"We're talking to the victims, and when you ask them what the problem is, a lot the victims, more and more, are saying 'this is the first time we fought over bills,'" she said.

From April 2007 to March 2008, the solicitor's office saw 1,477 cases of domestic violence, according to Mosley. That number increased to 1,646 from April 2008 to March 2009, she said. The increase of 169 cases includes charges of simple assault, simple battery, and battery.

"I think some of it can be definitely attributed to the economy," said Mosley. She said job losses and family finances are "having a direct impact in the emotions and what's going on in the home."

"When you've got two paychecks coming in and you're down to one that's a lot of stress," she said.

Mosley said a simple assault would involve some type of threatening motion such as, "I raise my hand to slap you, but I never make contact."

Simple battery would include actions such as slapping or pushing, or some physical contact that does not leave an injury.

Battery would involve physical contact that leaves a visible mark, such as a black eye.

Mosley said the greatest increase has been among simple batteries. From 2007 to 2008 the solicitors' office saw 632 cases of simple battery. That number rose to 793 from 2008 to 2009 - an increase of 161 simple battery cases.

"What we're seeing, I don't think we're shocked by it - disturbed - but not shocked," Mosley said.

The Clayton County solicitor's office is hosting two forums later this month during National Crime Victims' Rights Week, in an effort to raise awareness of services to prevent family violence.

"We have Securus House coming out, which is the battered women's shelter. We're also asking the churches to come out and set up booths to provide information to the citizens, especially anything that's free," Mosley said.

The first forum will take place April 28 at Forest Park City Hall, at 746 Forest Parkway. The second program will take place April 30 at the Clayton County Administration Building, at 112 Smith Street, Jonesboro. Both events will be from 6 to 8 p.m.

Mosley said both forums will also include a panel discussion on the important elements of crime prevention. The panel will answer questions from concerned community members in the audience.

Mosley said expected panelists include representatives from the Clayton County Police Department, the Clayton County sheriff's office, the district attorney's office, and the Forest Park Police Department.