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Dear Editor: I am writing this letter today with great sadness in my heart because of the loss of another precious member of our community to domestic violence. I have spent the last seven years of my life attempting to educate those who will listen, about the horrible affects of domestic violence on our individual lives and our community. Even though our shelter helped over 3,600 individuals last year, this loss tells me that we have not done enough.

I understand that right now, everyone has the need to lay the blame for this loss on someone, when in fact we should all lay the blame on each other. Domestic violence is a way of life for one in three women. This way of life has become the norm to many children. We, as a society, have allowed this to happen because we don't want to talk about it. It is not a subject that tickles our minds. It is shameful if it is us, so we are silent. It is personal if it is our friend. It is no one's business; it is a family matter. When in fact we should all be screaming from the rafters that we will not accept this behavior anymore! The only way we can slow down this epidemic of violence in the home is to stop accepting it as a society. If you see or hear it happening to someone, anyone, call the police.

Your call can remain anonymous. The issue of domestic violence is more often than not, a learned behavior. We must begin teaching our children at an early age that violence is not a way of life. Life is precious and sometimes we can't prevent things from happening, but sometimes we can.

If you know someone or believe that someone is experiencing domestic violence in a home; tell her that you care about her and that your heart is always open no matter what choices she makes. Talk to her with calmness in your voice.

Don't try to take control of the matter unless you have had the training to do so. Be a friend. Tell her about Project ReNeWal. Just get her to call (770) 860-1666. Tell her it is a confidential call. We can help with a safety plan. We can give a safe undisclosed place to stay. We can give the knowledge needed to make the right choices. Just always remember that the choice is hers. It is her life and without the knowledge of what can happen people often don't see the signs that the situation is very serious, after all they love the person who is mistreating them.

Project ReNeWal has just received a grant to provide training to law enforcement, medical staff and the faith based community in the coming months. I urge all of you to try to take advantage of one of these classes.

It is a free, yet priceless class. You can e-mail me at if you are interested in attending. I will notify you of the time and place of the classes when our dates have been confirmed.

If you are interested in volunteering with Project ReNeWal ,you can also e-mail me of your interest.

Remember only you can make a difference! Let's take our community back. The motto of Project ReNeWal is "Not in My Town" but my staff of 12 can't slow this violence down without YOUR help and the support of our local officials. Get involved, urge your friends, church and civic groups to get involved and the next time this happens to someone, maybe you will be the link to save a life. I wish someone would have told Ms. Atkinson about Project ReNeWal.......this story might have ended different if she had known about us.

To the Atkinson family I would like to say, with a tearful heart, I am so very sorry for your loss. You are all in our prayers and thoughts. The staff of Project ReNeWal pledges to you to continue to strive daily to educate our community so that no one else will ever experience this pain.