SAFE director: Domestic violence up recently

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – October is National Domestic Violence Month, and Deborah Yates said awareness is the key to women avoiding abusive relationships.
Yates, executive director of SAFE – the Shelter and Assistance in Family Emergency, a shelter for battered women and children – said from Oct. 1, 2010, through Sept. 1, 2011, SAFE took in 95 women and 113 children. It provided non-resident services for 94 women and 89 children.
During the same period, Lee County authorities made 382 arrests for domestic abuse with 107 of those coming from the Tupelo Police Department.
Yates said those numbers show how serious a problem domestic abuse really is.
But the most disturbing number for Yates is the nearly 500 nights of service the shelter provided for women and children in September. The nights of service are the actual nights that a person stays.
Once a non-believer in the notion that stress increases violence in the home, Yates said the recent spike is making her change of views.
“We have a lot of joblessness and a lot of economic problems going on, and I think that’s why we are seeing some of these crimes increase,” Yates said.
Yates said over the years stricter laws on domestic abusers have helped victims. But she said there are some laws that need to be tweaked.
“The law now requires an abuser to go through counseling,” Yates said. “But that counseling could be done by a neighbor, preacher or just a friend they talk to. I would like to see the law specify that they see a person trained to handled domestic violence cases, not just anger management.”
Unlike a person with anger issues, Yates said domestic abusers hide their anger very well.
Donna Franks handles domestic cases for the Lee County Sheriff’s Department. She said she is seeing more domestic abuse cases than ever before, and she attributes that to the bad economy.
“It’s too common now,” Franks said. “And it’s hurting the children who are seeing this behavior. People need to really be aware of how this type of crime affects their families and children.”
On Oct. 11, SAFE will host the Families and Communities Together program at First Baptist Church at 6 p.m.