Friday, October 29, 2010

Women Arrested for DV Murders

Two Georgia women have been arrested recently for murdering their husbands. WRC knows that women are also capable of using violence, but we also know that women are much less likely than men to murder a spouse or intimate partner. In addition, much of the violence used by women that men's groups cite to prove that men are equally as victimized happens in self-defense. When viewing these two murder cases through that lens, it is certainly interesting to note that both homicide victims had a history of domestic violence.

From WALB:

An Albany woman, who shot and killed her ex-husband Monday night says she'd long been the victim of domestic violence.

33 year old Marlina Hamilton is charged with killing 32 -year old Christopher Donaldson.

Donaldson had just gotten out of prison in March and Police say he and Hamilton, who divorced two years ago, were talking about moving back in together.

Police were called to Hamilton's home around 10:30 that night because of an argument, and officers told Donaldson to leave.

He returned a couple of hours later and was shot.
From the AJC:

A 53-year-old northwest Georgia man was shot and killed Wednesday night, and his wife has been charged with murder.

Walker County deputies were dispatched to the Flintstone home after receiving a call about a domestic dispute, the Rome News-Tribune reported. Deputies found D.C. Hollis dead on the living room floor, according to the report.

Hollis apparently died from a single .38-caliber gunshot wound to the head, Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson told the newspaper. An autopsy will be conducted at the GBI crime lab.

Hollis' wife, 53-year-old Jimmie Nell Hollis, was arrested and charged with murder, Wilson said.

The couple has a history of being arrested, according to the Walker County Messenger.

D.C. Hollis was released from state prison in 2006 following his conviction on aggravated assault charges, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.
This is not to say that either man deserved to be killed, but you don't often see newspaper reports of female homicide victims that mention that she spent time in prison for assault or that he claims she had of a history of abuse toward him. Even if we count cases where women kill their partners in self-defense, or to end a lifetime of abuse as these cases may be, the unfortunate reality is that women are still disproportionately killed by their partners and men are disproportionately the ones who do the killing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

White House Remarks for DVAM

President Obama made remarks today as part of a Domestic Violence Awareness Month event. Here is an excerpt:

Those stories remind us of how cruel, how menacing domestic violence can be -- because it happens at home, the place where you should feel safe. Because the abuse comes at the hands of the people who are supposed to love you and trust you. Because escaping domestic violence is not only associated with a great deal of fear but also incredible financial and legal challenges that often leave victims of abuse feeling trapped.

That’s what we have to change. And I say that not only as a President, but as a son, as a husband, as the father of two daughters. Now, we’ve made a great deal of progress in recent years. But everybody in this room understands that our work is not yet finished. Not when there’s more we can do to help folks looking to restart their lives and achieve financial independence. Not when there’s more to do to ensure that the victims of abuse have access to legal protection. Not when children are trapped in abusive homes -- especially when we know the lingering damage and despair that this can cause in a child’s life. Not when one in every four women experiences domestic violence -- and one in six women are sexually assaulted -- at some point in their lives.

The full remarks are available here.

At the event, the President also announced plans for a series of federal domestic violence initiatives. From Politico:

There are programs targeted at children, including a fund to assist pregnant women who are victims of domestic violence in five states — North Carolina, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia and Washington — and Head Start centers in six states – Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico and South Carolina – will launch a program to help staff members identify signs of domestic violence in children and respond appropriately.

HUD will release guidelines for housing authorities and landlords who have tenants who may be victims of domestic violence, a move that codifies protections outlined in the Violence Against Women Act. The FDIC will expand its Money Smart financial literacy curriculum on Friday to include information for victims of domestic violence.

The Justice Department will announce the start of a pilot program intended to get more private lawyers to offer services to domestic violence victims pro bono. “Beginning in New Orleans and Baltimore, private law firms will hire law students who have participated in law school clinics and defer their start dates while they work at domestic violence service providers,” the White House fact sheet states.

The initiatives also include a new website,, which will be up and running this week to help employers address the impacts of domestic violence in the workplace.
It is amazing what can be accomplished by a government that takes domestic violence seriously, and we applaud the Obama administration for these efforts.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More News from Churches

The Epsicopal Diocese of Atlanta has posted an article on their website about the role churches can play in stopping domestic violence. They also cite one of the most important facts when it comes to the importance of faith organizations taking a stand: women who are experiencing domestic violence in Georgia are much more likely to reach out to their church than to law enforcement or domestic violence agencies like ours.

We did a special interview in our fall newsletter with Victoria Ferguson, an advocate at our safehouse. Victoria has a background in theology and works with women who are experiencing crises in their faith because of family violence. She also provides advice for faith-based organizations in working with both survivors and abusers. You can find our newsletter here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Effects of Wrongful Arrest

The Albany Herald provided coverage this week of a Domestic Violence Awareness Month event hosted by a sister DV agency in Georgia called Liberty House. The discussion focused on an extremely important topic: the number of women whose lives are negatively impacted by calling the police because they are wrongfully arrested for using violence in self-defense.

It bothers domestic-violence survivors that victims have to fear being jailed for protecting themselves.

“My husband put a .357 Magnum to my head, and he beat me with a belt,” said Karen Lawrence, an Albany resident. “But if I hit him and gave him a scratch, he would just say go ahead and call the police. They’ll put us both in jail.”

Lawrence spoke from the audience at a Liberty House-sponsored discussion on domestic violence labeled “The Face of Domestic Violence” Thursday at Darton College.

Her experience also touched on Tuesday’s gunshot killing of Christopher Donaldson by his ex-wife Marlina Hamilton, Lawrence said.

“If the man leaves when the police were there and then he comes back, everyone I know in that situation knows that the man comes back much more mad,” Lawrence said. “Any woman will tell you that.

He is mad you called the police and he is mad you made him leave.”
Women's Resource Center offers a twice-monthly class that provides "anger management" for women who have been arrested for domestic violence. What we have observed in this class is that most of the women were arrested for using violence in self-defense. Other women were arrested for provoking a fight that they knew was coming because he had a history of using violence against her and she was tired of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Many of the women could benefit from anger management instruction, but most need domestic violence counseling and services.

The effects of these arrests cannot be understated. Many women lose their jobs, some lose their housing or public benefits, and some lose their children to their batterers or to state custody. These women also learn very quickly not to call the police ever again, meaning that they also lose the protections of the legal system. These wrongful arrests allow her to keep being victimized and are more likely to keep her in the relationship than to help her escape from it. This is an important discussion that many organizations are afraid to have and we applaud Liberty House and the Albany Herald for talking about this issue.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Man, 2 Children Dead in DV Murder-Suicide

Media outlets around the state are slowly releasing details about a Southwest Georgia man suspected of killing his 15-year-old and 8-year-old stepchildren, then himself.

From Fox 31 in Southwest Georgia:

Colquitt County Sheriff's officials say it started as a domestic violence situation between Kejie McDougald and his wife Angela. But it ended with the death of the husband and their two children.

“She got away from him, escaped from the house ran to a neighbor. In [sic] the husband took the lives of two children and himself,” said Colquitt County Sheriff Al Whittington.

Investigators say the kids, both boys ages 15 and 8, were just getting ready for bed when the violence broke out.

It's also an especially tough case for the sheriff's department, because Angela McDougald is one of their own.

“She is a deputy sheriff with Colquitt County. She has been with us since I think '02, just a fine young lady,” said Whittington.

This crime affects a large part of Colquitt Count, because not only did Mrs. McDougald work for the sheriff's office, but she was assigned at the Colquitt county school system, where her husband also worked and both of their children attended classes.
People are always shocked when someone they know commits an act this violent, but we would remind everyone that batterers don't walk around with a neon sign on their chest that says "beware". They look like everyone else, and just because they are nice to their neighbors or good at their job does not mean that they aren't capable of violence within the home.

Another truth is that survivors of domestic violence don't wear signs on their chest identifying themselves as such. Many of us have a stereotype of a domestic violence victim in our head. She is usually covered in bruises, cowering in a corner, has no self esteem, and is in need of rescue. Occasionally WRC meets women like that, who have been so beaten down by years of abuse that they have lost their sense of self, but more often the women, just like the men, look like everyone else.

This is certainly a teaching moment for an entire county about what domestic violence can look like. We should also remember that this is not just a teaching moment, but the loss of three lives to a problem that our society largely ignores. Our thoughts and prayers are with the McDougald family.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lawrenceville Man Kills Wife, Self

The AJC reports that a Lawrenceville woman, who died due to lacerations to her neck, was murdered and her husband, also found dead at the scene, committed suicide. The couple's 12- and 9-year-old children were present in the home and report hearing the couple fight the night before.

The two were found dead inside a house in the 2000 block of Carriage Way near Lawrenceville, police said.

Gwinnett police spokesman Edwin Ritter said that the couple's 12-year-old son went to a neighbor's house around 7:30 a.m. and told the neighbor something was wrong with his father and that he might be dead. The neighbor phoned police, who responded and found the couple dead inside the home, Ritter said.

The home where the incident occurred is in a neighborhood of middle-income families off Old Peachtree Road, between Braselton Highway and Ga. 20, according to Ritter.

Neighbor Christopher Smith, told the AJC that he was awakened by the children screaming.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hall family.

Monday, October 4, 2010

DeKalb Man Kills Wife, Attempts Suicide

CBS Atlanta reports that an Avondale Estates man killed his wife Saturday, then attempted to take his own life.

Police were dispatched to the 1100 block of Berkeley Road around five a.m. Friday. There they found the body of 64-year-old Karen Jenkins and her critically wounded husband Ronald Jenkins, also 64.

Police said it appears Karen Jenkins was stabbed to death, and Ronald Jenkins had self inflicted slashing wounds to both wrists.

Ronald Jenkins was transported to Grady Hospital in critical condition. He has been charged with murder.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Jenkins family.