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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Safe Passage may expand into Fulton County

Thursday, April 12, 2007

From 2005 to 2006, over 900,000 women in the United States were victims of domestic and intimate partner violence.

Approximately 18 percent of those women were 15 to 24 years old.

That same year, approximately one million calls were made to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

A year later $48 million was cut from domestic violence prevention services.

In hopes of combating the epidemic, Safe Passage was established.

The non-denominational, faith-based organization provides support, shelter, counseling and various resources to children and families suffering from an abusive home life.

After helping a number of families and children from Fulton County, Safe Passage is looking to expand into the area, according to Kristy Puckett who works with the agency.

"People don't think (domestic violence) is a problem around small towns where everyone knows everyone. It does," Puckett said.

One Fulton County woman, who requested anonymity, knows this for a fact.

The source said she was in a five-year relationship in which she suffered physical, mental and emotional abuse from the man she lived with.

She said he was different at the beginning of their relationship. "The first two years were great. Then things changed -- a lot."

Her boyfriend started drinking heavily. He would intentionally alter her vehicle so she couldn't drive. If she did get the opportunity to leave the house, he accused her of being unfaithful, she said.

The woman said her boyfriend also directed abuse to their children. "His favorite word was stupid," she said. "He never got bad (physically abusive) with the kids. He saved that for me. But he would constantly call the kids stupid."

The source said when her boyfriend wasn't abusive, he was charming and sweet. "It's hard when you're in a relationship. Things were good when he would be nice. I guess I?kept staying around for the days he was nice," she said.

However, after three years of walking on eggshells, dodging mood swings, being pushed and slapped and yelled at, she had had enough.

One day while her boyfriend was at work, the woman said she packed as much as she could into her vehicle, took her children and went to her aunt's home. "I'm glad I did. (My aunt's) the one who told me about Safe Passage," she said.

The woman said she was thankful for Safe Passage and grateful for their help.

"Safe Passage was a wonderful place to go. I was completely confused and terrified. But there, I didn't have to worry," she said. "There wasn't any pressure. They give you the time you need to figure things out and help get the stuff you need."

Two weeks have passed since she left the Safe Passage home.

She said the organization helped her find a job and a home and helped her apply for assistance.

"It was a great place. No one understands when you're in that situation, but they did," she said.

Because of others from Fulton County like this woman who have sought help from Safe Passage, the organization is in the process of applying for grants that will enable Fulton County to have a full-time Safe Passage representative, Puckett said.

April 21 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Immanuel Baptist Church, Safe Passage is holding a meeting of the Fulton County Family Abuse Interface Coalition in hopes of generating community support.

"This is our first big effort to go into Fulton County," Puckett said. "There's a definite need -- we want to see if the community will step up to the plate."

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