October 2020 – A Year Like No Other
Most of us seek protection in the security of our homes, but what happens when those homes are not safe? For family violence survivors, their homes can be the most dangerous place on earth.
The Covid-19 pandemic means that some family violence victims are forced to remain in their homes with abusers because they can’t afford to leave, they lost their job or housing, or because of the fear of venturing out and getting sick and becoming one of the 195,000 fatalities. These fears are magnified exponentially when these victims are also protecting their children. This year during October’s Family Violence Month, victims can face two plagues – the COVID crisis and the violence while they are trapped in their homes.
Kimberly Wilson* lived in a small South Georgia town with her husband and two small children. Kim’s husband had been violent for years, but his drug addiction was getting worse as he began walking around the house threatening them with a gun, screaming, hitting her, and terrifying the children. Even with the dangers of COVID and nowhere to go, Kim knew she had to protect her family. In the middle of the night after her husband had passed out, she called for help and friends came and picked up Kim and her children. But the only place Kim could find to stay was a camper in a friend’s back yard. Kim called Georgia Legal Services for help. A GLSP lawyer represented Kim to get a family violence protective order and custody of her children. GLSP helped Kim get her own housing, helped with the first month’s rent payment, utilities, and deposits. With a little peace, Kim was able to find a job. Thanks to her courage and GLSP, Kimberly was able to start a new life during this pandemic.
Please don’t think that you need to suffer in silence. There is help for you. If you feel that you are in danger or if you would just like to speak with someone about safety planning, please call 1-800-33-HAVEN to be connected to the nearest domestic violence agency. This line is answered 24 hours per day by individuals who are trained in assisting victims of domestic violence.
Another option available to you is the Georgia Legal Service’s Family Violence Project, which assures holistic representation by providing legal representation in protective order cases, referrals to financial resources, food resources, healthcare access, help with housing representation if the landlord is threatening eviction, or advice and resources on divorces. In middle Georgia, GLSP has been a part of the coordinated community response to family violence for almost 50 years. GLSP lawyers represent victims, collaborate with law enforcement, courts, domestic violence, and social service agencies to meet the safety needs of survivors and the community.
Tomieka R. Daniel
Macon Regional Office Georgia Legal Services Program