Domestic violence awareness event set for Thursday

Henry County Police have responded to 980 cases of domestic violence so far in 2011. Of that total, four ended in deaths. In light of those, and related numbers, county officials are launching Domestic Violence Awareness Month with a ceremony on the McDonough Square, Thursday.

"Each year, in Henry County alone, more than 1,000 women become victims of domestic violence," said county spokesperson, Julie Hoover-Ernst. "The public is invited to come and learn about the domestic violence issues within the community, and what they can do to help."

Organizers of the public-awareness day on The Square include: the Henry County Police Department, Haven House, Southern Crescent Sexual Assault Center, Henry County's courts, the District Attorney's Office, and the Solicitor General's Office.

Henry County Police Maj. Jason Bolton said domestic violence incidents are not strictly limited to one spouse versus another. Incidents between past or present spouses, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living, or formerly living, in the same household, also fall into the category of family violence.

Bolton added that the term "family violence" encompasses the occurrence of any felony, as well as battery, simple battery, assault, simple assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass.

Sonya Richey, Henry County's Violence Against Women liaison, will provide the keynote address for Thursday's ceremony. Her comments, Hoover-Ernst said, will focus on teens, and dating violence, to help educate young people about healthy relationships.

"The theme this year is ‘Turn on a Light and Save a Life,'" said Hoover-Ernst. "Attendees will receive purple lightbulbs to put in their porch lights, to help raise awareness about domestic violence in the community.

"At the conclusion of the ceremony, the names of all women who died as a result of domestic violence in Georgia over the past year will be read," she said. "Purple and white balloons will be released in their honor."

For more information about Haven House, visit: www.henryhavenhouse.org. For more on the Southern Crescent Sexual Assault Center, visit: www.scsac.com.