Two years ago, a mother called the Promise Place crisis hotline with a desperate plea for help. She and her daughter were living in their car, their only option for escaping a domestic violence situation. The daughter, a senior in a high school in Griffin at the time, dressed for school in the school restroom and ate breakfast and lunch in the school cafeteria, always saving half her lunch for her mother.
Upon learning of their situation, the staff and volunteers at Promise Place sprang into action, offering the pair a temporary home in a safe house in Fayetteville and help to get back on their feet. Because it was important for the mom to keep her daughter in her school, Promise Place provided gas cards so the mom could drive her daughter back and forth to Griffin. Her bright, resourceful daughter graduated that same year and received a full scholarship to Mercer University.
This is just one of the success stories Vanessa Wilkins, Executive Director of Promise Place, can share about the life-saving, life-changing work being done at Promise Place to combat domestic violence and help survivors find hope and a fresh start.
Domestic Violence Defined
Most of us think domestic violence happens to other people. In reality, it could be happening right now to your next door neighbor, your colleague at work or school or maybe it is happening to you. Domestic violence can affect anyone, regardless of education, financial situation, race, gender, sexual orientation, age or religion. It is an equal opportunity crime that includes a host of behaviors meant to intimidate and isolate the victim.
Promise Place defines domestic violence as:
“A pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain control or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Behaviors may be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.”
Services and Prevention Programs
Founded in 1987, next year Promise Place will celebrate 30 years of serving domestic violence victims in Fayette, Spalding, Pike and Upson counties. Offices in each county together assist more than 3,000 clients each year! Promise Place staff and volunteers work tirelessly to stop domestic violence by monitoring a 24-hour crisis hotline, providing immediate intervention during an emergency when victims and their children need to flee an unsafe situation. Help can include placement in a safe house. This facility is in a private, secure location and can accommodate up to 15 women and children at one time. If the safe house is full, Promise Place will place clients at another location. Clients can stay at the emergency safe house for up to 30 days or longer, based on individual needs.
At Promise Place, victims can receive legal advocacy, including help filing a temporary family violence protective order to keep the abuser away. During this critical time, Promise Place will also provide counseling, support groups and placement in a long-term transitional home if needed. There are three full apartments above the Promise Place office where clients who qualify can stay for up to a year until they become more economically and emotionally stable. Groceries are provided, and the staff and volunteers make sure students have new outfits and school supplies for school, so they can feel as normal as possible.
During their time in a transitional apartment, clients continue to receive counseling.
“Emotional abuse is the most harmful and takes longest to recover from,” Vanessa says. “The old saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me’ is not true. Words have great impact and can erode self confidence. Counseling builds back their self esteem so they don’t repeat the same cycle in their next relationship.”
In counseling, clients also learn the dynamics of domestic violence, its effect on children, and steps to regain their self worth.
Prevention is a major objective of Promise Place in its mission to end domestic violence. One of the most exciting and innovative programs staff and volunteers promote is Teen Dating Violence Prevention Education, a series of classes on healthy relationships taught in ninth grade health classes by Promise Place volunteers. The program has proven so successful that it will be expanded to sixth grade middle school students this school year. Both boys and girls get the training. Not only do boys need to learn about healthy relationships, but 15% of Promise Place’s clients are men in an abusive situation.
Promise Place has a supportive partnership with all local law enforcement agencies and hosts seminars each year to train officers on how to spot and deal with a domestic violence situation.
How You Can Help
Promise Place needs your help getting the word about their services to those who need it the most. According to local statistics, 80% of those killed in domestic violence fatalities in Georgia had some interaction with law enforcement, but only 15% had any interaction with their local domestic violence shelter! Promise Place wants more people to know they are here to help – to provide hope and a fresh start.
Promise Place needs the donation of your finances, time and talents! Ninety percent of all financial donations to Promise Place go to direct services to help victims of domestic violence yet there is still never enough money to meet all the needs. In addition to more funding, Promise Place is recruiting additional volunteers to answer the 24-hour crisis hotline and to teach the teen dating violence prevention program in the schools. Food for the food pantry and clothing for the women and children at the safe house and transitional housing are much in demand as well.
A simple and fun way you can help Promise Place is to support the 12th Annual Run to End Domestic Violence to be held on Friday, Oct. 7, at 6 p.m. at Picnic Park in Peachtree City. The event will include a 5K Run/1 Mile Walk/1 Mile Wheelchair Roll.
“Domestic violence affects everybody. It can happen to you. Promise Place offers an alternative. You don’t have to stay in your situation. It is a safe haven.” – Dr. Adrienne Johnson Member, Promise Place Board
Domestic Violence by the Numbers:
This is the number of people Promise Place serves each year. The organization helps domestic violence victims in Fayette, Spalding, Pike and Upson counties. Promise Place staff and volunteers work tirelessly to stop domestic violence by monitoring a 24-hour crisis hotline, providing immediate intervention during an emergency when victims and their children need to flee an unsafe situation. Help can include placement in a safe house.
- 1 OF 3 AMERICAN WOMEN report being physically abused at some point in their lives
- 74% OF CHILDREN growing up in violent homes are more likely to commit a crime when they get older
- 1 IN 3 TEENS report verbal, emotional or physical abuse from a partner each year
- 1,400 GEORGIANS lost their lives due to domestic violence from 2003 to 2014
- 65% of recorded domestic violence FATALITIES in Georgia in 2014 involved the USE OF FIREARMS
- 2,213 VICTIMS of domestic violence were served by Promise Place in 2015
- Promise Place gave teen datingviolence prevention presentations to 2,233 STUDENTS IN 2015
If you need help, call the Promise Place 24-hour crisis hotline at 770-460-1604. For more information on how you can get involved, go to promiseplace.org or call 770-461-3839.