COVINGTON, Ga. - A purple light is shining over Newton County to remind victims of domestic violence they are not alone.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Newton County District Attorney's Office is working to continue to bring awareness to domestic violence in the community.
"The past few years, our office has placed a purple ribbon wreath on the Covington square to celebrate those that have emerged and survived domestic violence but to also remember and mourn those that have lost their lives to this serious problem in our society," Shay Payne, victim assistance coordinator with the DA's office, said. "We have posted Domestic Abuse banners around our town and we have made a Public Service Announcement to share on social media. This year, we wanted to do something extra and different for everyone to see.
"The District Attorney’s Office will be illuminating the Administration Building purple during the month of October to promote awareness of domestic violence in our community."
Payne encouraged local residents to use the symbolism of the light to encourage a friend or loved one who may be in an abusive relationship to talk to someone who can provide help and guidance.
"There is no single road map to escaping domestic violence," she said. "Our hope is that a person struggling to find a way out of an abusive relationship will pass by this light one night and realize they are not alone and there is help available for them.
"Every victim’s experience with domestic violence is different. The reality is that it does not always start with a punch. Physical violence is typically the easiest to see evidence of, but domestic violence can be manifested in a variety of ways as one partner attempts to control another through fear and intimidation. The abuse can be physical, verbal, mental and financial. While it can take different forms, the abuse may become more frequent and intensive over time and occur in any type of relationship, including past and present spouses, parents of the same child, parents and children, step-parents and step-children, and others living in the same home. 'The Power and Control Wheel' is a powerful tool to help understand, quantify and identify the types of violence and key behaviors to look for."
The Power and Control Wheel
Payne provided statistics for domestic violence cases in Newton County for the last four years, which show just how prevalent the issue is locally.
2019 – January through October 10th
Felony Family Violence arrests: 38
Misdemeanor Family Violence arrests: 155
Petitioners assisted with TPO’s: 510
2018 – January through December:
Felony Family Violence arrests: 48
Misdemeanor Family Violence arrests: 178
Petitioners assisted with TPO’s: 706
2017 – January through December:
Felony Family Violence arrests: 39
Misdemeanor Family Violence arrests: 169
Petitioners assisted with TPO’s: 724
2016 – January through December:
Felony Family Violence arrests: 43
Misdemeanor Family Violence arrests: 172
Petitioners assisted with TPO’s: 683
"These numbers serve as a reminder that you are not alone in your fight against Domestic Violence," she said. "There is support, in addition to family and friends, that can help alleviate your situation."
The Newton County District Attorney’s Office has six Victim-Witness Advocates to assist victims of crimes throughout the criminal justice process.
The advocates inform victims of court dates, ensure that victims know their rights in these situations and provide them with information and referrals to social service agencies, counseling services and shelters, as well as assist victims with obtaining Temporary Protective Orders.
Victim Services can also assist victims of violent crimes by providing assistance with applying for Crime Victims Compensation. The Crime Victims Compensation program offers a range of compensation from covering expenses related to medical bills, funeral expenses, mental health counseling and crime scene sanitization, as well as the loss of income or support.