Hood Addresses Domestic Violence Conference

By: Sheila McLain and Stephen Bowers Email
By: Sheila McLain and Stephen Bowers Email

Care Lodge hosted its annual Domestic Violence Conference Tuesday in Meridian.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood spoke to attendees, which included law enforcement, case workers and counselors, about this serious problem in the state and nation.

Hood said it's startling that 73% of sons who see their fathers abuse their mothers will do the same. He said the cycle has to be broken.

"A lot of it has to do with education, people recognizing it, teachers, beauticians. Getting the education out there, the information out there to people that it is a problem that we can deter if people intervene with abusers," said Hood. "Many times we can get it stopped, keep the family together and that's our goal."

Hood says the first step is getting victims away from an abuser and then getting the abuser into an intervention program. He said it's there that a person learns how to appropriately deal with his emotions.
Representatives of the Battered Women's Justice Project, a national resource center for response to domestic violence, also participated in the 14th annual conference.

Officials say the number of domestic violence victims seeking help has increased by as much as twenty percent in some areas.

"We are serving more families than we ever have," said Care Lodge executive director Leslie Payne. "In fact, the last six months have been the most active six months in the history of Care Lodge."

But funding on the national and local levels is down. The tough economy may also be a contributing factor to the upward trend in domestic violence.

"When you have someone who is unemployed, they're home, and there's more time together. And actually having a partner who is unemployed heightens the risk factor for domestic violence according to research that's been done," said Connie Sponsler-Garcia of the Battered Women's Justice Project.

Even with cuts in funding, more people than ever are helping domestic violence victims.

"There are more partners now engaged in responding to domestic violence. We have the police department. We have domestic violence prosecutors. We have domestic violence probation units," said Sponsler-Garcia/

Payne says that while national funding will likely hold steady, local funding may improve.

"With a conference like we're holding now, with public awareness that certainly will get the issues, the serious issues of domestic violence, out in the forefront," Payne said.

Care Lodge assists more than 500 people from East Mississippi every year.

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