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Speak up for victims of domestic violence
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It was a packed room Tuesday morning at the Effingham College and Career Academy as the Savannah Area Chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management presented ways to spot and stop domestic violence.

This is also National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, and today is the annual “Jeans for Justice” day, when people wear blue jeans to work to raise money and awareness of domestic violence.

That awareness of domestic violence has to be enhanced is in itself dismaying. Its results are disturbing and far too often, a blind eye is turned to its effects.

Of 16 mass shootings in the U.S. last year, domestic violence incidents preceded five of them. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the suspected Boston Marathon bomber killed following a shootout with police, had been arrested previously for assaulting his girlfriend.

As workplace and domestic violence have increased, said Effingham County human resources director Rushe Hudzinski, preparation on the organizational level has declined.

“Preparation is the key,” said Hudzinski.

In 2010 and 2012, Georgia ranked 10th in the U.S. for incidences of men killing women in single-victim homicides. Most of them are the result of domestic violence. Domestic violence resulted in 128 deaths in the state in 2012 and as of last month, there had been 34 fatal victims from domestic violence in 2013 alone.

According to the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, 46 percent of victims killed in domestic violence incidents began their relationship with their killer when they were between 16 and 24 years old. The 2012 Domestic Violence Fatality Review Report found that 76 percent of domestic violence deaths stemmed from guns; 77 percent of victims had been in touch with law enforcement in the five years before they were killed; 30 percent were actively involved in their church in the five years before they were killed; and in 43 percent of the cases, the victim and her killer had children together, and kids witnessed the killing in 18 percent of the cases.

For girls and women ages 15-44 in Georgia, domestic violence continues to be the No. 1 culprit for injuries.

The study also stated that employers and co-workers can stem the tide through training on recognizing symptoms, supporting victims and making referrals.

“If you know about it, it’s your responsibility to let somebody know. It can be your preacher or your pastor, a counselor,” Effingham Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie said to the crowd Tuesday. “Domestic violence is a real crime.”

For more than 20 years, the Effingham County Victim Witness Assistance Program has been fighting to stop domestic violence. It was groundbreaking in its efforts to direct funds from certain citations and fines to helping victims.

But too often, domestic violence victims are unwilling to come forward. They need someone looking out for them. The old adage “if you see something, say something” rings even more true for them.

For more information about National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and how to help domestic violence victims, call the ECVWAP at 754-7460.