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Help available for domestic violence victims

By By MICHELE GERLACH Publisher
The statistics are sobering.
And it happens, here, too.
In the past month, two Brewton women have been killed by their domestic partners, and one of those men later killed himself.
On Nov. 12, Geraldine Dailey Stallworth was stabbed to death near her home on Alco Drive. Larry Donnelle Donald, who previously had lived with her, was charged with her murder.
Less than a week later, on Nov. 17, Rosemary Washington, 44, and Robert Shavers, 77, were both found dead on Gooden Lane. Police Chief David Lovelace said last week his department's preliminary investigation found that Shavers shot Washington before turning the gun on himself.
While not all cases of domestic violence are this extreme, the crime is common. But special help is available to victims through the Domestic Violence Crime Unit. Renee Cain works with this unit as a victim's advocate.
That could mean assisting them in obtaining a warrant, protecting them from future abuse, or referring them to services that could provide them a safe place to stay or help gaining independence from an abusive spouse. Among the agencies to whom Cain refers victims are Penelope House shelter, SAIL (legal aid), Hope Place, The Light House, the Department of Human Resources, the American Red Cross, and Mission Hope.
Cain said if a woman is in an abusive situation, she should immediately let a friend or relative know. If she is being abused, she should call the police.
Victims often are referred to the Domestic Violence Crime Unit by the police, sheriff's department, district attorney's office, or DHR.
While women often hesitate to file charges against their husbands or domestic partners, in serious cases, the state will take over and prosecute the offender.
If a woman's life is in imminent danger, arrangements can be made to get her to Penelope House, a shelter for abused women, Cain said. However, victims must be drug-free to use Penelope House's services.
Most often, all an abused woman needs is encouragement and reassurance that she can make it on her own.
To request help from the Domestic Violence Crime Unit, a victim can contact the police or the district attorney's office, Cain said. Her location is kept confidential to protect victims.
Other members of the Domestic Violence Crime Unit include assistant district attorney Steve Billy; Sgt. Monte McGougin, investigator Lee Hall and administrative assistant Annie Salter.