By MICHELLE JEHLEN
Thousands of women from all socioeconomic levels suffer from physical abuse within their home, and hundreds more have been victims of sexual assault. The YWCA of Northwest Georgia provides a safe haven from domestic violence for women and children in Cobb County and has been doing so for more than 95 years.
The YWCA built Georgia’s first domestic violence shelter; the shelter provides a secret and secured location to help give the victims the security and knowledge to be able to overcome the terrifying and potentially life-defining experience and rebuild their lives.
“The YWCA is the only social service provider to partner with law enforcement, the DA’s office, and WellStar Health System to provide services to victims of sexual assault over the age of 13 in Cobb, Cherokee and Paulding counties,” said Holly Comer, CEO and executive director of YWCA of Northwest Georgia.
Services and Needs
Some of the services offered to victims include medical assistance, law enforcement, counseling, shelter and even transitional housing for up to two years to help women of all ages put their lives back together, one day at a time. Comer says that the organization requires an operating budget of $1.7 million.
Funds are needed for ongoing assistance such as the 24-hour crisis hotline; the 32-bed shelter which operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; the Sexual Assault Response Team; Counseling (both one-on-one and group); and legal advocacy.
Rape victims used to have to visit the emergency room like everyone else and wait for exams and tests as well as questioning after the incident. Now, with the help of the YWCA, they are able to visit a more private clinic where they can seek medical care in privacy.
The YWCA of Northwest Georgia is currently undergoing a much needed renovation of its Cobb County facility and shelter for those it serves in the community – victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Therefore, it has launched a capital campaign seeking assistance.
One longtime supporter and advocate for the organization’s work against domestic violence is District Attorney Pat Head.
“When he first took office in 1998, he began to improve the response of the Crimes of Women and Children’s Unit by getting more staff and more funding,” said Kimberly McCoy, director of the Victim Witness Unit at the District Attorney’s Office.
She said Head always felt that someone should be there for the women and children who have been abused.
Domestic violence is increasing drastically and begins at a much younger age today than in the past. This is an epidemic within our community and so many people look the other way because they just aren’t sure what to do to help.
To find out more information about the YWCA or how you can help, visit the website at http://www.ywca.org. To get help if you are a victim, or if you know someone who is, call the local 24- hour help line at 770- 427-3390 or the statewide hotline 800-33- HAVEN.