This month, we celebrate Valentine’s Day, a day that highlights your love for that special someone. Many take time to profess their love in special ways. But, unfortunately, there are too many people in our communities who don’t live in a world of safe love. They are victimized by the one they love the most and are left in a trap that can be very difficult to escape. Since 2020, we have seen a significant increase in domestic violence cases.
According to OCGA 19-13-1, “family violence” means the occurrence of one or more felonies or commission of offenses of battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint or criminal trespass between past or present spouses, people who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children or other people living or formerly living in the same household.
Violence is becoming more prevalent in our culture. Our ability to cope with emotions has given way to violent expressions to one another. Increasingly, those expressions are targeting the people the aggressors claim to love. Historically, violence of this nature has been related more to power and manipulation. The victims are held captive by the belief that it will stop or that there’s nowhere else to go. Violence brings physical and mental anguish.
Too frequently, our officers encounter domestic incidents that result in strangulation by the aggressor. It’s extremely important for victims to realize strangulation is serious and can cause internal injuries, brain damage and/or delayed health consequences, such as strokes, thyroid issues, miscarriage and death. Research shows that if you are strangled even one time, you are 750% more likely to be killed.
It’s clear there is no quick fix to this problem, but we have to start somewhere. If you are a victim, please reach out for help. You don’t have to endure life this way. There are resources available to assist you, and they are becoming more accessible. Your law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and advocates are here to point you in the right direction. If you are an aggressor, you need help, too. Reach out to a counselor, and get help before you hurt the person you love the most again.
In Cobb County, victims can seek assistance through LiveSafe Resources by calling 770-427-3390. The Georgia Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-334-2836, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-SAFE (7233).
Love really is a powerful emotion. We all have the power to love. But remember that power creates a responsibility to protect yourself first, and then those you love.
Until next time, stay safe.
– Bill Westenberger has served as chief since 2008. He was given the 2019 Kennesaw Citizen of the Year Award.