In 2004, the Georgia Commission on Family Violence (GCFV) and the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence (GCADV) joined together, with support from the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC), to start the Georgia Domestic Violence Fatality Review Project (the Project). This strategic partnership was the first statewide initiative to review domestic violence-related fatalities.

The Project grew out of the need to identify gaps in the systemic response to domestic violence that were perpetuating a high rate of domestic violence-related homicide in Georgia. The cooperation of the two statewide domestic violence agencies engaged conversation and collaboration statewide, and often formed a framework on which other CJCC funded programs developed their capacities. Through our collective work on the Project, which seeks to enhance the safety of victims and the accountability of batterers, much has been accomplished.

On the cusp of our 15th year, the Project has:

  • Developed a process and foundation for the vital work of domestic violence fatality review in Georgia including a policies and procedures manual, a near fatality review model and a website dedicated to fatality review work;
  • Assembled and led multidisciplinary teams in 24 judicial circuits to conduct in-depth reviews of 116 domestic violence-related homicides, suicides and near fatalities;
  • Prepared and published objective information gained from these reviews in 14 Annual Reports, that have each given voice to victims so as to learn from their experiences as we seek to prevent future tragedies;
  • Identified gaps in system responses and critical points for intervention or prevention, while providing a forum for increasing communication and collaboration among community agencies; and
  • Implemented recommendations to create a coordinated community approach to ending domestic violence, including significant efforts towards training varied systems on better responses and creating innovative partnerships with other disciplines.

Despite our many accomplishments, GCFV, GCADV and CJCC acknowledge that there remains significant work to be done to address the Project’s findings and to eliminate this violence in Georgia. While we have made many improvements in statewide data collection, there is still much that is left unknown about these tragedies. As we enter this milestone 15th year, and with the full support of CJCC, partners GCFV and GCADV will pause and pivot as we continue our respective work tied to the Project.

The 15th Annual Report will be the Project’s final, in its current incarnation. As we reflect on our work, a concluding report will act as a capstone to highlight key findings, encapsulate Project data, and issue a call to action as the Project partners continue their collective work, separately.

GCFV’s pivot in the work looks to cultivate the collection of information about the problem of domestic violence statewide and act as a clearinghouse for statewide domestic violence data. GCFV recognizes the ongoing needs of our systems partners to obtain and utilize domestic violence data for training, grant-making, and community response and remains firmly committed to disseminating data. Under the new focus of our work, GCFV will not only field requests for data, but will also publish a relevant report of statewide domestic violence-related deaths and statistics.

GCADV’s pivot will turn towards implementing recommendations and promising practices gleaned from reviewing domestic violence-related fatalities. GCADV will focus on implementing Project recommendations by providing resources and ongoing support to communities seeking to make grassroots change in how their local systems respond to domestic violence. This will take place, all with the ultimate intention of reducing domestic violence-related fatalities.

As we consciously move in different directions within the work, GCFV and GCADV will remain collaborative partners. This ongoing relationship benefits both agencies and the State that we serve, as we continue work on the shared goals of reducing domestic violence and domestic violence-related fatalities in Georgia. GCFV and GCADV continue to see the value of reviewing domestic violence-related fatalities and remain committed to supporting communities who are engaging in this process, albeit on a more limited basis.

CJCC appreciates the collaborative work the Coalition and the Commission have done on the Fatality Review Reports. We understand the importance of the Project and GCFV and GCADV have done tremendous work on raising awareness, identifying gaps in system response, and promoting a coordinated community effort as a step to reducing/eliminating domestic violence in the State of Georgia. We are excited for the new projects that will emerge, as they move forward to delve deeper into the reports and build on the information that has been produced over the years.

As we embark on new paths, GCFV, GCADV and CJCC ask for your continued engagement. Our efforts to promote safety and justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators continue to move forward, and your support as an ally in this work is increasingly vital during this time of change.

Thank you,

Georgia Commission on Family Violence

Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council

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Jennifer Thomas,