Local support groups offer help to victims of domestic violence

By Cheyenne Tolleson - The Walton Tribune Intern

During the month October, the nation sheds light on the ever-present issue of domestic violence.
“It encompasses not only physical violence, but financial abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse, and sexual abuse,” said Ashley Dykes, executive director of Project ReNeWal.
“It’s all about power and control, and it’s not actually about someone doing something, but the threat of it.”
In our county, there are multiple systems of support in place that can offer many forms of aid to anyone in need.
“Project ReNeWal covers Rockdale, Newton, and Walton counties,” explained Dykes. “We serve men, women, and children that are victims of domestic violence. While they’re in our program, which is a 30-day program, we allow them to just focus on healing. We have peer support groups that meet in the shelter and also in the communities that we serve.”
In addition to these staples, the program also provides aid in job search, house hunting, parenting and transportation.
They can be contacted via their 24-hour crisis line: 770-860-1666. Or, if that is not the best option for the situation, they have an easily escapable website: www.projectrenewalgeorgia.com. After visiting the website, the address will not be visible within any search history, so there is optimal safety when visiting. Since such resources are often visited under extreme circumstances, the organization strays away from making a spectacle of itself; however, there are other, supporting organizations.
Our most local one, the Walton County Domestic Violence Task Force, can be seen gathering resources, spreading the word and raising funds for the actual shelters.
Vice President of the force, Bethany Allen, says “We are like the middlemen.”
“The Task Force knows information on Project ReNeWal, so people can contact us with questions if they’re curious. We also get donations,” said Allen. “We want people in situations to know that they are not alone. It’s normal for them to feel isolated, [but] we want them to know that there are people to help. It all takes that 1st step.”
Both the task force and the shelter want to make it clear to the public of the very real statistics that plague our communities. One in four women and one in seven men experience, or have experienced, some type of domestic violence.
While everyone involved is eager to help, Dykes wanted to close by saying: “Ultimately, it’s up to them to make the decision when it’s the right time to leave — they know when it’s the safest.

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