Domestic violence class held

Published 1:24 pm Tuesday, August 21, 2012

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, are Larry Nichols of Red Hills Counseling, Chris Marsh of Halycon Home, retired officer Mike Mertz of C&M Consultants, Jennifer Thomas and Jenny Aszman of the Georgia Commission Family Violence and District Attorney Joe Mulholland.

A number of area law enforcement officers, social workers and interested citizens took part in a day-long domestic violence training class held Tuesday.

The class, which had approximately 80 participants, was held as part of a Law Enforcement Appreciation Luncheon sponsored by the office of Joe Mulholland, district attorney for the South Georgia Judicial Circuit.

The class covered basic topics, including the cycle of domestic violence, what officers should be looking for and how to provide safety for victims, as well as more advanced topics.

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Class participants were also told about area resources for victims of domestic violence, including the Halycon Home for battered women in Thomas County and the Teresa D. Young Foundation, which provides a variety of outreach services in Bainbridge.

Special guests were Jennifer Thomas, the program manager for the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, and Jenny Aszman, who coordinates the commission’s annual Domestic Violence Fatality Review report.

Sometimes, officers who respond to a 911 call of a man and woman fighting may not realize that there is something deeper going on than one incident, Thomas said. In taking both the man and woman’s report of what happened, officers can evaluate each person’s behavior to help identify who is the abuser and who is the victim.

“While both may admit to violence, the aggressor tends to deny being involved or blame the other party for what happened, while the victim is more likely to apologize for the violence and make excuses on the abuser’s behalf,” Thomas said.

The fatality review report “is an in-depth examination of domestic violence-related deaths; this process exposes and illuminates the gaps in community response to domestic violence.” The report highlights a number of statistics and trends and is intended to help people work for change in preventing domestic violence, increase safety for victims and help them connect with resources to get them out of an abusive situation.

The report, which also contains many victims’ stories, is viewable in full online by visiting and clicking on the “Fatality Review” link.

Mike Mertz, a retired law enforcement officer from Forsyth County, Ga., who specializes in domestic violence training for law enforcement, also spoke at the event.

After identifying a victim of domestic violence, it’s important for officers to gather information about any prior incidents of abuse, reassure the victim that they are not responsible for the abuse, and advise them on ways they can get help, Mertz said.

Law enforcement officers who took part in the class received four hours of professional training. Law enforcement leaders were also given “Roll Call” training resources that they could use to train their co-workers on specific topics. Mulholland said class participants included officers from Decatur, Miller and Seminole counties, as well as Department of Family and Children Services employees, probation and parole officers and others who work with women and children as part of their jobs.

Mulholland said the same training and officer appreciation luncheons would be held in Camilla and Cairo, which are also in the area he represents, later this week.