Section 1. Introduction
This manual was developed by the Georgia Commission on Family Violence (GCFV) to provide resources and other practical information for Family Violence Task Forces (FVTFs). The manual is for community members, frontline practitioners, and members of systems across Georgia who lead and participate in FVTFs. Within this resource, you will find data, research, policies, and practices which guide the planning and work of FVTFs. The manual can be used as a blueprint for implementing a new FVTF, and as a resource for active FVTFs as they evaluate their purpose and goals. This manual will be updated regularly by GCFV in an effort to provide relevant and current information based on the feedback and inquiries we receive from FVTF leaders and members.
Task Force Survey
In Fall 2016, GCFV conducted a survey of task force members and leaders across the state. The purpose of the survey was to gather information to assist GCFV in identifying (a) the needs of FVTFs, (b) areas of improvement, (c) how FVTF models and structures being used in communities across the state (d) how GCFV can continue to support the work of FVTFs. The survey questions addressed: levels of engagement, perceptions of diversity and inclusion, characteristics of a strong and successful FVTF, and use of the Duluth model and other program operating models.
Over 160 FVTF members completed the survey, including 134 members and 30 leaders. Seventy-eight percent of the respondents were women, and 22% were men. Seventy percent identified as White/Caucasian, 25% as African American/Black, and 5 % as Hispanic/Latinx. The survey respondents were almost evenly distributed by age. The majority of the FVTF leaders who completed the survey have worked in the family violence field for more than 10 years.
Slightly more than half of respondents attended between 1 - 4 FVTF meetings throughout the year, with 38% serving on committees. Sixty percent of members state that their FVTF has active committees. The survey revealed that 78% of respondents agree that their FVTF is focused on the principles of victim safety. Additionally, 76% of respondents agree their FVTF is focused on developing best practice policies and protocols that are a part of an integrated response to family violence.
Although the needs identified through the survey vary, the results were clear: FVTFs are committed to the central idea of victim safety and offender accountability. The creation of this tool is a direct response to members requesting guidance, clarity, and support in the operation of their FVTF.
What is a Family Violence Task Force?
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 to address family violence issues, and effecting systems change through creating an organized, interconnected response to domestic violence.
GCFV has been helping communities establish local FVTFs in Georgia since the early 1990’s. GCFV was charged with supporting FVTFs by the Georgia State Legislature in 1992, and GCFV strongly believes in the effectiveness of a coordinated community response approach to ending family violence.
O.C.G.A. 19-13-31 reads: There is created a State Commission on Family Violence, which shall be responsible for developing a comprehensive state plan for ending family violence. This plan shall include the initiation, coordination, and oversight of the implementation of family violence laws and the establishment in each judicial circuit of a Community Task Force on Family Violence. These task forces shall be supported by and work in collaboration with the state commission (O.C.G.A. 19-13-31 (1992).
About Family Violence Task Forces
Each year, the Georgia Domestic Violence Fatality Review Project works with teams in communities across Georgia to review local domestic violence deaths. These reviews prioritize the experiences of victims, and give FVTFs new ways of improving services, plugging gaps, increasing communication between agencies involved with victims and offenders, and increasing the links between services and community members. From these tragedies FVTFs are able to gain deeper insight into the dynamics of domestic violence, and examine strengths and weaknesses in the way systems work together to respond to family violence. In the over 13 years of conducting fatality review, the Project has identified patterns of victim and perpetrator engagement with multiple systems. There are usually several agencies and services involved with victims or perpetrators in the years prior to the fatality. Despite this involvement, we see victims and perpetrators experiencing gaps, as well as limited communication across systems. The issue of family violence cannot be solved by one system alone. Addressing and ending family violence requires multiple groups working together to change systems, and FVTFs facilitate this collaboration.
Given the prevalence of family violence in Georgia, FVTFs play a vital role in helping communities and systems understand the significance and complexity of family violence. FVTFs can serve a critical role, from improving local policies and practices to increasing communication across systems and increasing public awareness of DV, all while upholding victim safety and strengthening offender accountability.
Currently, there are 38 active FVTFs statewide. FVTFs in Georgia are usually specific to a judicial circuit. However, several judicial circuits have FVTFs that are county-specific. To locate the FVTF in your judicial circuit, please use the FVTF List. The FVTF map is another tool to locate active FVTF’s in Georgia. If there is no FVTF in your area and you are interested in starting one, please contact our Family Violence Coordinator for assistance after reading this manual.
Starting and maintaining a FVTF can be both exciting and challenging. GCFV is available to provide support as your FVTF moves from initial formation, to the planning and implementation of FVTF initiatives.