Friday, July 31, 2009

Great Reporting in Valdosta Daily Times

Women's Resource Center and the Georgia DV Media Watch applauds Malynda Fulton of the Valdosta Daily Times for her article on the high number of recent DV homicides in her city.

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.

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, 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.
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.

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