VALDOSTA — Domestic violence continues to steadily rise in the area, as indicated by the rash of violent and deadly crimes among acquaintances that have occurred in recent months in Valdosta.It is so rare for reporters to connect the dots between DV homicides for their readers, or to use moments like these to educate. Please contact the Daily Times to let Ms. Fulton know you appreciate her reporting.
On Monday, July 20, Dr. John H. “Bud” Curtis, 72, was discovered dead in his 1100 Williams St. residence. Police later arrested his roommate, William Mark Love, 40, and charged him with malice murder, according to the Valdosta Police Department.
Two days later in an unrelated incident, the body of 17-year-old Brittany Wade, a mother of two young children, was discovered in a shallow grave in a Bunche Street back yard. Law enforcement officers arrested the children’s father, Jonathan Barrett, 21, and charged him with her murder.
Last month, a Moody Air Force Base airman threw his wife from a third-story balcony then committed suicide. Though the wife survived, she sustained broken bones in both of her arms.
Just three days before this incident, the body of Tammy Smith, 45, was discovered in a grassy area on Cypress Street. Her longtime boyfriend, Richard Morrison, 48, was charged with her murder.
These specific incidents, in addition to a growing number of battery cases that local law enforcement agencies have responded to in the area, all involve people from different backgrounds with different lifestyles.
The Haven Executive Director Michelle Girtman said anyone can be affected by domestic abuse.
“Potentially anyone can become a victim of domestic violence,” she said. “Alcohol, drugs and poor economic conditions elevate tendencies toward violence.”
Domestic violence, along with emotional abuse, are behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating.
Girtman added that domestic violence affects more than just the victims.
“Domestic violence is thought to be a private matter, and people do not want to get involved,” Girtman explained. “However, domestic violence is a crime and should be recognized as such. It is a crime that not only affects the individual but children, family members and friends. Ignoring domestic violence will not make it go away.”
Nonetheless, family members tend to ignore domestic violence and deny that problems exist, Girtman said.
Because ignoring the abuse can lead to dangerous, even deadly situations, Girtman said it is best to always tell someone about domestic violence.
“The shame belongs to the abuser, not the victim,” she said. “This is why we urge victims to call The Haven for information on resources that are available and for assistance in developing a safety plan. We also encourage victims to call the police and report the crime.”
According to HelpGuide.org, types of domestic violence include emotional or psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and financial abuse. Warning signs that someone is a victim of domestic violence include frequent injuries with excuses for accidents, harassing phone calls from a partner, fear of a partner, personality changes, isolation from friends or family, insufficient resources to live, depression or low self-esteem and submissive behavior.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Following an anniversary party that ended in a murder-suicide tragedy, East Point police know the victims. They know the shooter. But what they don’t know is why 87-year-old George Doby killed his wife and grandson Sunday.
“We still don’t have that question answered,” said East Point Police Det. Cliff Chandler. “I’ve worked plenty of murders, but nothing like this.”
Police say Doby shot his grandson, 12-year-old Jacob Doby, and then his 82-year-old wife, Moiselle “Edna” Doby before turning the large caliber gun on himself in the backyard of his Stone Road home.
The family had gathered that day to celebrate the couple’s 57th wedding anniversary.
The couple’s daughter and other relatives were inside when they heard gunshots shortly before 2:30 p.m. and found the people outside, East Point police Det. Cliff Chandler said.
“I just heard explosions,” said the couple’s next-door neighbor, Margaret Bowman. “There were two ... then two more ... and another.”
The boy and his grandmother had multiple gunshot wounds, and the woman’s husband had a single self-inflicted gunshot wound, Chandler said.
Autopsies are being conducted Monday, authorities said.
“[The family] was devastated,” Chandler said. “They didn’t see it coming.”
Bowman, who’s known the couple for 44 years, said the man was losing his eye sight and was struggling to take care of his wife who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
“I think he feared he was not going to be able to keep taking care of her,” Bowman said. “He was overwhelmed.”
This is the second Atlanta-area murder-suicide involving longtime married couples in their 80s in less than two weeks. On July 15, 86-year-old Edward Travis shot 85-year-old Anne Travis, his wife of 60 years, in Avondale Estates.
East Point Police don’t have a motive in Sunday’s killing.
Police confirmed that Moiselle Doby suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and said the grandson was autistic.
“Right now we don’t have any reason as to why this shooting took place,” said Chandler. “We’re perplexed. The family’s perplexed.”
According to the United Spinal Association, people with disabilities, like Parkinson's and Autism, are more likely to be victims of domestic violence and abuse by their loved ones than are the rest of the population. This is true of physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, overdosing or withholding medication, stealing money, immobilization, financial abuse and denying necessary equipment. People with disabilities are more likely to be abused for a longer duration and to suffer abuse from more than one individual. People with disabilities are more likely to depend on their abusers for food, personal care services, health care support and other vital roles.
Each domestic violence death is tragic and our hearts go out to the families of the women taken from them. But, this recent rash of DV killings in Georgia can only be described as chilling. There have been 69 domestic violence homicides in our state so far this year. Click the "Georgia" or "Local News" links below for details.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Valdosta Police Lt. Bobbi McGraw said Jonathan Barrett, 21, is charged with the murder of 17-year-old Brittany Wade.Valdosta police also questioned “a person of interest” Thursday night in an unrelated afternoon shooting death of another young woman.
Wade’s body was discovered in a shallow grave at 1029 Bunche St., where the suspect’s aunt resides.
The victim did not live at the residence.
Barrett was apprehended within hours of the discovery of Wade’s body. He was charged with murder and transported to Lowndes County Jail after Valdosta police and detectives questioned him Wednesday evening.
McGraw said that Wade’s body has been sent to the state crime lab for an autopsy.
At this time, the cause of death is not known; however, the victim did have trauma to her body, McGraw said. It appears that the victim died the night before her body was discovered.
The exact time of death will be determined after the autopsy report returns.
Barrett was a former acquaintance of the victim. He is also the father of Wade’s two children.
The 20-year-old woman was alive at approximately 4:30 p.m., when emergency responders left the scene of the Tyndall Drive residence, said Valdosta Police Lt. Bobbi McGraw. The woman was taken by ambulance to an area hospital. McGraw reported her death to The Valdosta Daily Times at approximately 5:40 p.m.
Police were officially still working this case as a suspicious death Thursday evening. The woman’s identity was being withheld pending notification of all family members.
Investigators reported the woman as being shot in her torso. People at the scene and police conversation noted the woman was shot in the throat.
Authorities were questioning a black male, believed to be in a relationship with the woman.
Prior to his being taken into custody, police were searching for a man described as wearing gray boxers and no shirt, or gray boxers and a gray shirt. He was also reportedly covered in blood.
The incident happened at approximately 4 p.m. Thursday at a duplex-style townhouse at 3126 Tyndall Drive. Authorities found a young black woman shot inside the residence. Emergency-medical personnel reportedly did not have room to treat her inside the residence. She was removed from the townhouse and taken by ambulance to an area hospital.
Dallas police are investigating a domestic murder-suicide.
Police said Brad Armstrong, 35, shot and killed his 22-year-old ex-girlfriend Heather McCarthy after the couple had broken up. Then Armstrong fatally shot himself.
Officers responded around 4:30 p.m. Thursday to a report of the bodies being found at the Merchants Courts apartments, police spokesman Sgt. Bill Gorman said.
The couple had been together for about a year until McCarthy ended the relationship two weeks ago, Gorman said.
Relatives told police the Armstrong was physically abusive, and had attacked McCarthy days before the breakup. Gorman said police have no reports of domestic violence between the couple.
Monday, July 20, 2009
The action reverses a Bush administration stance in a protracted and passionate legal battle over the possibilities for battered women to become refugees.Read the entire New York Times article.
In addition to meeting other strict conditions for asylum, abused women will need to show that they are treated by their abuser as subordinates and little better than property, according to an immigration court filing by the administration, and that domestic abuse is widely tolerated in their country. They must show that they could not find protection from institutions at home or by moving to another place within their own country.
The administration laid out its position in an immigration appeals court filing in the case of a woman from Mexico who requested asylum, saying she feared she would be murdered by her common-law husband there. According to court documents filed in San Francisco, the man repeatedly raped her at gunpoint, held her captive, stole from her and at one point tried to burn her alive when he learned she was pregnant.
The government has marked a clear, although narrow, pathway for battered women seeking asylum, lawyers said, after 13 years of tangled court arguments, including resistance from the Bush administration to recognize any of those claims.
Moving cautiously, the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately recommend asylum for the Mexican woman, who is identified in the court papers only by her initials as L.R. But the department, in the unusual submission written by senior government lawyers, concluded in plain terms that “it is possible” that the Mexican woman “and other applicants who have experienced domestic violence could qualify for asylum.”
As recently as last year, Bush administration lawyers had argued in the same case that in spite of her husband’s brutality, L.R. and other battered women could not meet the standards of American asylum law.
“This really opens the door to the protection of women who have suffered these kinds of violations,” said Karen Musalo, a professor who is director of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. Professor Musalo has represented other abused women seeking asylum and recently took up the case of L.R.
We applaud the Obama administration for recognizing the dangers of domestic violence and offering our country's protection to survivors, though it is ironic that one of the requirements for potential asylees is proof that domestic violence is widely tolerated in their country. We challenge an appeals court to find a country where domestic violence is not widely tolerated, including this one.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
"Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status ..." (Article 2, Universal Declaration of Human Rights)We need more men like President Carter, who are willing to make sacrifices of their privilege, and to take a stand against what they know to be wrong. Faith communities are not immune to domestic violence, and abusers often use their faith, their partner's faith, and the doctrines of inequality that President Carter condemned to justify violence and control. We need more men, more people of faith, and more people with influence making clear their unequivocal belief that violence against women, and discrimination against women from which violence is bred, is wrong. Thank you, Mr. President and all of the Elders, for being an ally.
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)
I have been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world.
So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service. This was in conflict with my belief - confirmed in the holy scriptures - that we are all equal in the eyes of God.
This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. It is widespread. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths.
Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries. The male interpretations of religious texts and the way they interact with, and reinforce, traditional practices justify some of the most pervasive, persistent, flagrant and damaging examples of human rights abuses.
At their most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.
The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.
In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.
The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in Britain and the United States. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for everyone in society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.
It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and out-dated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.
I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive area to challenge.
But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.
The Elders have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights. We have recently published a statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."
We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.
Although not having training in religion or theology, I understand that the carefully selected verses found in the holy scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar Biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.
At the same time, I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted holy scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.
I know, too, that Billy Graham, one of the most widely respected and revered Christians during my lifetime, did not understand why women were prevented from being priests and preachers. He said: "Women preach all over the world. It doesn't bother me from my study of the scriptures."
The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter.
Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.
Via Feminist Wire Daily.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
The woman killed filed two orders to protect herself and her property just hours before the deadly attack.Women in the Atlanta, GA area who would like to speak with an advocate about making a plan for her safety can call our 24-hour hotline at 404-688-9436. Elsewhere in Georgia, you can call 1-800-33-HAVEN. If you live outside of Georgia, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. All call are confidential and you can remain anonymous if you like. Friends and family members can also call these hotlines to learn how you can talk to someone in your life who may be experiencing family violence.
Angela Sands filed for a stay-off-of-property notice around 9:30 AM Monday morning. Ft. Gaines Police notified 40 year old Eddie Heard, Junior that the paperwork had been filed just a short time before he killed her.
Police Chief Sonny Davis said Heard came to see him Monday morning, complaining that Sands owed him money. When Sands stopped by the station later, she told police she intended to pay Heard $100 she owed for the installation of her new mobile home.
Sands told the chief she didn't want Heard on her property and applied for the protective notice. When Heard stopped by to see the Chief later in the afternoon, an officer served him with the paperwork.
Angela Sands had also called the Patuala District Attorney's office to request a temporary protection order, although that order would never be served. Researchers estimate that three to four million women are beaten in their homes each year by their husbands or partners. Temporary Protective Orders are a way to escape the violence and start the legal process that can lead to an arrest.
Victim advocates say there is a 75 percent greater chance for a homicide when a victim files for a temporary protective order, that's why advocates say it needs to be a planned out process.
The brutal murder-suicide in Clay County has once again put a spotlight on domestic violence and how dangerous it can be to escape the pattern.
"Once a woman makes a decision to leave that's the most dangerous time for her because she has finally taken back some power and he will escalate," said Silke Deeley of the Liberty House.
Victims' advocates at the Liberty House that serves 17 south Georgia counties including Clay County say, applying for a temporary protection order can be dangerous, but it's often necessary.
"A restraining order is just a piece of paper and it doesn't stop bullets and it doesn't stop knives, and it doesn't stop fists or anything else," said Deeley.
That's why it's important law enforcement who often deal with domestic problems put victims in touch with an advocate who can make them aware of potential warning signs.
"When their partner is kind of isolating them, very controlling, possibly keeping the finances under their grips, not allowing them free access to the finances," said Tonya Abner, Dougherty District Attorney Victims' Advocate.
Advocates say every woman attempting to escape that type of situation should have a plan to distance themselves from the aggressor, even if that means relocating.
"We need to talk to her about ways to be safe and ways her family needs to be safe," said Deeley.
You can also find a downloadable safety plan on our website.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
FORT GAINES, GA (WALB) - A shocking murder-suicide rocked a small town in Clay County. Authorities say in broad daylight a man shot and killed his long-time girlfriend, then turned the gun on himself Monday afternoon.
What looked like a bad afternoon wreck on a rainy day in Fort Gaines was much more . . .
There was extensive damage done after authorities say 40-year-old Eddie Heard Junior rammed his truck head on into 29-year-old Angela Sands' car. "Jumped out and went around and shot her at least twice from what we can tell at the moment and turned around and took a self-inflicted shot to the head," said [Clay County Sheriff Roger] Shivers.
Sands was hit in the chest and head with bullets from a revolver. The couple apparently had a history of domestic disturbances.
The family and friends of the victim and the man who took her life are in our thoughts and prayers, especially the children the couple left behind.
There is good and bad reporting in this story. First, the good:
In the title of the story ("Man kills girlfriend, then kills himself"), the blame is placed exactly where it belongs. Many domestic violence story titles imply that the victim is somehow responsible, for instance that cheating was the cause of the violence. This title recognizes that the perpetrator is to blame.
Secondly, the article recognizes that this was a case of domestic violence, and that the murderer has a history of such violence against his partner. So often media outlets treat these homicides as isolated incidents, and we are glad that WALB pointed out that this was an escalation of the violence that was already happening in the relationship.
It’s also important that the reporter noted that these deaths were preventable. The couple had a history of domestic violence documented by the police. If the batterer had been arrested and prosecuted, the victim in this case might still be alive.
The quotes selected for a story can do a lot to tell us about community beliefs about domestic violence, but they can also be misleading about its nature. Sheriff Shivers states, "If you can't get along, there's easier ways to handle it than this." It’s quite disturbing that an officer of the law would reduce the nature of domestic violence to that of squabbling, rather than a history of physical abuse and control that ultimately ended in a homicide. If the station really felt the need to include that specific comment, some follow up remarks about the true nature of domestic violence would help readers/viewers understand what really happens in these relationships and why supporting survivors of family violence is vitally important.
Another troublesome quote is this one: “’Man this is just tragic that two nice people like this had to lose their lives over something that could have been prevented a long time ago,’ said Glenn Neal.” If he killed his girlfriend in such a violent way, is he really a nice person? Perhaps that could have been followed up with comments explaining how batterers are often good community members and hide their violent natures with everyone except their partner. This could be an important teaching moment. Batterers can seem like great guys and may be your brother, your boss, your friend, the pastor at your church, or anyone else you would never suspect.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Call spoofing technology can be extremely dangerous for women being stalked and, after a violent relationship ends, many women find that their former partners continue to harass them. When women attempt to screen their calls, call spoofing technology helps stalkers get through anyway by disguising the number. When women hope to file a Stalking Protective Order or criminal charges for harassment, call spoofing technology makes it harder because the women have no print record of constant calls from a number they can identify with their harasser. Call spoofing technology also makes it easier for stalkers to harass their victim at work, because it looks as if she is receiving calls from many different phone numbers. Some services even include voice change technology that can alter the voice, even helping male callers sound like women and vice versa.
In some circumstances, this technology could be useful for women on the run from their partners who are worried that family and friends may have their phones tapped, but those technologically savvy batterers are much more rare than those taking advantage of these products to harass and intimidate.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
But even as a growing body of research underscores the role male partners play in condom use and negotiation, no suggestion was made that those stats might include some girls who are forgoing condoms against their will, even those bolstered by condom-friendlier sex ed.This issue has been discussed here before (18% of Young US Women Have Been Raped, Forced Pregnancy as Abuse ), and is one that we hear about regularly from women using our programs. It isn't just teens, but sexual and reproductive violence often starts in the teenage years and continues as the relationship continues. Some women are victimized in this way by multiple men over time. It is just one of many ways abusers try to assert power and control over their partners, but it is one of the most impacting. Bruises heal, but a child is always there, and the more children you have, the harder it is to get free.
"The person you're 'negotiating' condom use with may not be interested in negotiation," says Miller.
"The picture out there is 'just get women birth control,' " adds Esta Soler, president of the Family Violence Prevention Fund, which has launched a public awareness campaign about reproductive abuse in relationships. "But, because of coercion or sabotage, they may not have control over whether they use it."
And it's not just about pregnancy. Dr. Anne Teitelman, Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania, is an expert on partner abuse and HIV risk. In her published review on this link among adolescent girls, she found six studies identified an association between intimate partner violence and increased risk for HIV (as in condom non-use). Among adolescent girls, survivors of partner abuse are significantly more likely than others to be diagnosed with an STD.
Dr. Teitelman's research findings also indicate that verbal abuse, as well as physical abuse, is linked with increased HIV risk among adolescent girls.
Teitelman, who is also a Family Nurse Practitioner, observed this association firsthand, before studies began to confirm the link.
"We're giving teens all this information about prevention in the clinic, and yet I see them back all the time for STI testing," she says. So, she began to ask, " 'What's not working on our end? What are the obstacles in their lives that are making this difficult for them?' I was not a partner-abuse researcher before, but I became one because that was one of the major answers."
What drives young men to abuse in this way?
"It's clearly out-and-out control of a woman's body. Control for control's sake," says Miller. It's an urge that stems, experts say, from an inability to manage their own fears and insecurities.
In one 2007 study, some boys acknowledged outright that they insisted on condomless sex as a way to establish power over female partners. (There is evidence of analogous male-on-male sexual violence, but it hasn't been studied in depth.)
Other research found that some men took a woman's request for a condom as an accusation of cheating, or an admission that she had slept around or strayed. And for some, yes, the goal is fatherhood -- but not so much of the "involved" variety; rather, it's a desire to mark one woman as "mine" forever. Or, according to Patti Giggans, young men in gangs say, "I'm not gonna be around forever. I've gotta leave my legacy."