Group presented with “Task Force of the Year” award for murder-suicide program
GAINESVILLE – The Georgia Commission on Family Violence (GCFV) recently presented its Task Force of The Year Award to the Hall County Domestic Violence Task Force at the 27th Annual Family Violence Conference. The award recognized the Hall County group for piloting a murder-suicide response program amidst a year that’s seen a marked increase in these crimes.
“We have worked hard to educate the county and our partners about domestic violence and are grateful for the recognition from the GCFV,” said Janet Whittaker, Gateway Domestic Violence Center shelter manager and chair of the Hall task force. “We have been encouraged by the response of the Supporting Survivors of Murder Suicide Committee and the support that has been given to survivors.”
The Task Force has held trainings and developed protocols to respond to murder-suicide incidents. Members have spent hours meeting with survivors, providing information about victims’ compensation, and gathering required documents for survivors. They also have made counseling referrals and advocated for services needed by survivors.
“We have seen our partners grow in their participation in the Task Force and their understanding of domestic violence,” Whittaker said. “We look forward to continuing to support the survivors in Hall County.”
This work is very much needed in the community as evidenced by the domestic violence murder suicides that occurred in 2021. According to the GCFV, there are an average of 20 domestic violence murder suicides each year in Georgia. To date this year, there have been nine in Hall County alone, compared to one in 2020.
“(The Hall task force) has shown survivors of murder-suicide that they are not alone and they are not forgotten,” said GCFV Support for Survivors of Murder Suicide Coordinator Kylee Elliot. “Members of this task force identified a gap in their community and they filled it. Their community is better, stronger and safer because of their tireless commitment to survivors.”
Jessica Butler, Gateway Domestic Violence Center executive director, works closely with the group. “The Hall County Domestic Violence Task Force coordinates awareness activities for the community and professional development opportunities for our members,” Butler said. “One of the highlights of our year is our breakfast and briefing each October where we recognize a domestic violence officer for excellent work.”
Family violence task forces are multidisciplinary community groups (government agencies, community-based agencies, survivors of family violence, concerned community members and professionals) whose focus is on increasing victim safety and offender accountability through coordinating local services and effecting change through creating a coordinated community response to domestic violence.
The Commission’s 27th annual family violence conference was held virtually Nov. 8 -10, with more than 600 local and national stakeholders attending, including judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, advocates, survivors, faith leaders, counselors and community members. The theme of this year’s virtual conference was “Moving Forward, Achieving Justice.”
Pictured: A screenshot of the virtual award presentation during the 27th Annual Family Violence Conference earlier this month. From left, Michelle Myers, Hall County Solicitor’s Office; Janet Whittaker, Gateway Domestic Violence Center; Dan Franklin, Hall County Sheriff’s Office.
The Georgia Commission on Family Violence, created by The Georgia General Assembly in 1992, is charged with developing a comprehensive state plan for ending family violence in Georgia. If you or someone that you know is being impacted by domestic violence, call 1-800-334-2836 to speak with a domestic violence advocate.
About Gateway Domestic Violence Center
Gateway Domestic Violence Center is a nonprofit organization founded in 1982 to help make a positive impact on the fight against domestic violence in Hall County. Gateway’s mission is to help create an environment for safe, healthy, self-sufficient growth and violence protection for victims of domestic violence. Gateway provides many free and confidential services to those in need including emergency shelter and transitional housing for battered women and children, classes and support groups, programs for children, occupational therapy and legal advocacy. To learn more about Gateway Domestic Violence Center call 770-539-9080 or visit gatewaydvcenter.org.