SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, visitors of Savannah’s Forsyth Park will notice purple ribbons wrapped around most of the trees.
“We wanted a big visual reminder if you know a victim of if you are a victim that Safe Shelter is ready to help you 24 hours a day,” said Cheryl Branch of Safe Shelter. For help, call 912-629-8888.
Branch says currently, the Safe Shelter facility is housing 35 people (18 women and 17 children) that have fled domestic violence situations. She also said that 1,332 people participated in Safe Shelter services last year, which included assistance in getting 330 protective orders.
Branch says statistics show that 110 people (the vast majority being women) died in domestic violence incidents in Georgia last year. In 2019, Branch says seven women died in Chatham County in domestic violence-related incidents.
“Domestic violence and breast cancer are the two biggest killers of women in this country and there’s help on both ends,” said Branch.
She was also asked about a recent reported incident of domestic abuse. Last Thursday, Chatham County police arrested 42-year-old William Gary Wright after he allegedly poured gasoline on a woman and set her on fire. The 31-year-old woman is being treated at the Augusta Burn Center.
“It’s horrific,” Branch told us. “I’ve known clients who were shot stabbed and strangled but not this.”
Branch said she is checking to try to find out if the woman burned had ever sought help from them. She says she can’t stress enough that help is available.
“When you call 912-629-8888 that is literally a phone call that can save a life,” said Branch.
She also urged those who are friends of women who need help to be supportive.
“It’s important to let that person know you are not trying to preach to them but that you are concerned and fearful for them,” said Branch. “Let them know you will try to do whatever it takes to help them get out of the situation and that resources are available. Then give them our phone number.”
Branch says COVID-19 has made the problem worse.
“At the beginning of March, our numbers went down because victims were afraid to go a shelter and things were made worse in terms of violence during quarantine, they were not able to get away from their abusers,” she explained.
Now, she says their numbers have picked up again.
Branch says at the same time, COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of many of their fundraisers. She says they need donations of cash and other products like paper towels and hand sanitizers.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233