What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is an abusive crime that affects victims and their families long after the crime has been committed. It takes many forms – physical, mental, verbal or sexual – and it often begins with the abuser blaming the victim for his or her own feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. Victims often feel powerless to escape the violence because of the controlling nature of the abuser. But, in Forsyth County and throughout the state, there are systems and laws in place to protect the victims, and place responsibility for the crime where it belongs – with the abuser.
Are You A Victim of Domestic Violence?
Does your spouse or partner say things to embarrass, insult or ridicule you? Isolate you, withhold affection, or physically harm you? Blame you for the abuse or excuse the violence because of what you did or didn’t do? If so, you may be a victim, or have the potential of becoming one. Now there’s help, but access that help you must acknowledge the problem.
Victim’s Bill Of Rights
If you want to get on with a normal life, there are a few things you need to know. For example, did you know that you have a Victim’s Bill of Rights, or that you can file a temporary protection order (TPO) against your abusive spouse or partner, or that you can even be compensated for expenses incurred as a result of domestic violence?
Under the Victim’s Bill of Rights, you have the right to:
* Notification of each stage in the judicial process, including pretrial hearings, bond, grand jury, arraignment, motion hearings, pleas of guilty, trial sentencing and appeals.
* Notification of arrest, release, possibility of release, escape or any change in custodial status.
* Give opinions of release from custody or bond.
* A private waiting area during court proceedings.
* Offer input on plea negotiations or sentence hearings and/or conditions.
Under the Victim’s Bill of Rights, you also have the right to protection from intimidation and harm. Specifically, you can file a Temporary Protection Order (TPO) against your abusive spouse or partner, which orders the abuser to refrain from harassing, injuring, maltreating, molesting, harming, stalking or abusing you or your children. It orders your abuser not to come within 500 yards of you or your children, including your home, your work, and your children’s day care or school. If the order is violated, your abuser will be arrested.
What To Do If Your TPO Is Violated
If your abuser violates your TPO, call 911 immediately! Tell the operator that you have a TPO and describe what your abuser has done to violate the order. You should also contact your attorney or legal advocate and notify them of your abuser’s offense.
Crime Victim Compensation
Being a victim of domestic violence not only affects you physically and emotionally – it can also be financially devastating. The Victim’s Bill of Rights gives you the right to receive compensation and/or restitution from your abuser. Georgia’s Crime Victim’s Compensation Program was created to assist victims – even victims of domestic violence – with crime related expenses, including medical bills, counseling expenses, lost wages, and funeral expenses that are not covered by insurance or other sources.
So, if you feel helpless and hopeless, don’t – there is help and there is hope. These agencies will advise you on the actions you should take – in total confidence. Regain control of your life and the lives of your children by contacting any of the following resources:
Crisis Resources Of North Georgia (rape crisis line) (770) 503-7273
Family Haven Battered Women’s Shelter 24-Hr. Hotline (770) 887-1121
Family Haven Legal Advocate (678) 947-3356
Family Recovery (770) 887-0900
Forsyth County Dept. of Family & Children Services (770) 781-6700
Forsyth County District Attorney (770) 781-2125
Forsyth County Adult Detention Facility (770) 781-2226
Forsyth County Magistrate (770) 781-2211
Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office (770) 781-2222
Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Victim Advocate (Domestic Violence) (678) 455-8458
Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Program (770) 781-2222
Forsyth County Victim-Witness Assistance (770) 205-2268
Georgia Legal Services (770) 535-5717
Georgia Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 33-HAVEN
Forsyth County Health Department (770) 781-6900
Forsyth County Mental Health (770) 781-6841
Solicitor General’s Office (770) 781-2145