State Commission Releases Analysis of Family Violence in Georgia, Compares Community Responses Relative to Local Population
Atlanta, GA (October 18, 2021) - The Georgia Commission on Family Violence (GCFV) has released Family Violence in Georgia: A Comparative Analysis 2013-2017. Recognizing that in-depth analysis of family violence data will support agencies and community members working to address family violence in a coordinated way, the report evaluates family violence response through the lens of population density, allowing for comparison between similar and dissimilar areas of the state. GCFV Executive Director April Ross comments, “Family violence is a serious threat to individuals, families, and communities. We are excited to present a more targeted approach to looking at the problem of family violence throughout Georgia. This report details challenges and strengths on a localized scale, and perhaps most importantly, provides opportunities for communities to take a look at what’s happening and coordinate their efforts to reduce family violence.” Some of the key findings of the report include:
Scope of the Problem - There is no perfect way to capture the volume of people impacted by family violence given the myriad ways victims and offenders have contact with resources statewide. While it is an undercount, the number of incidents reported to law enforcement agencies statewide is one reliable metric providing insight into the complex problem of family violence. During the five-year period there were 311,975 incidents of family violence reported in Georgia, the bulk of which (99.83%) were non-fatal. Despite their small volume, fatal incidents of abuse provide some of the most valuable insights into family violence response statewide. There were 518 fatal incidents between 2013-2017, accounting for 682 deaths statewide. Overall, the more rural population tiers had higher fatalities per capita than Georgia’s more urban tiers. GCFV Chairwoman and Solicitor-General of Hall County Stephanie Woodard notes, “Being able to see how my county is doing compared to others that are similar to it, provides an incredible opportunity to learn from each other in a collaborative way. This type of information can only make us more effective as we work proactively to address the serious impacts that family violence has on our communities in Georgia.”
Importance of Arrests - Police action taken when responding to family violence incidents impacts victim safety and offender accountability. Georgia is a preferred arrest state, meaning that officers have discretion in family violence incidents and are not mandated to make an arrest. Arrest is considered the best practice for police action taken in reported incidents of family violence. Arrests were made in 30.8% of all family violence incidents from 2013-2017. While arrests were the most frequently occurring outcome, two thirds of reported incidents resulted in a non-arrest. This calls into question the level of preference given to arrest in reported incidents of family violence. Underscoring this, is the fact that in Georgia’s least populated counties arrests occurred in 26% or less of reported incidents of family violence. Director Vic Reynolds of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation says, “The GBI is very honored to partner with the Georgia Commission on Family Violence as they create data driven solutions in response to family violence. Keeping victims safe, while holding offenders accountable, must be the foundation to a targeted approach that uses the state’s data to address these issues.”
Abuser Access to Firearms - Firearms present a lethal danger to victims, offenders, law enforcement officers, and bystanders in family violence incidents. Despite being present in less than 2% of family violence incidents overall, firearms were the cause of death for 495 out of the 682 people killed in family violence-related incidents from 2013-2017. Further, firearms were the cause of death in 100% of family violence-related fatalities in 35 of the 105 counties where the 682 deaths occurred. Regardless of who owns the firearm, its presence increases the danger to everyone. The report’s findings suggest that regardless of whether individuals are located in urban or rural areas of Georgia, firearms pose a lethal risk to those involved in family violence incidents.
Protective Measures - Temporary Protective Orders (TPOs) are a common marker for the health of the systemic response to reported incidents of family violence. TPOs can reduce or end the frequency and severity of future violence. Statewide, one Ex Parte TPO is granted for every four reported incidents of family violence. Typically, TPOs increase victim safety as they provide a mechanism for protective systems to intervene or interrupt escalating risk of violence.
The Commission is hosting a webinar October 21st, 2021 from 1-2PM EST https://gcfv.georgia.gov/events/2021-10-21/fv-georgia
The report is accessible for free online at https://gcfv.georgia.gov/resources/data.
About the Georgia Commission on Family Violence: GCFV is a state agency created by the Georgia General Assembly in 1992 to develop a comprehensive state plan for ending family violence in Georgia. GCFV works throughout the state to help create and support task forces made up of citizen volunteers working to end domestic violence in their communities. GCFV conducts research and provides training, monitors legislation and policies affecting victims of domestic violence, and certifies Georgia’s Family Violence Intervention Programs. For more information, visit gcfv.georgia.gov.
To obtain resources and support: If you or someone you know is being abused, there are community and statewide resources available to you. Call 1-800-33-HAVEN (English/Spanish/TTY), the 24-hour statewide domestic violence hotline, for a confidential place to get help or find resources.