The Toombs Judicial Circuit held their third meeting about implementing a domestic violence task force on July 16 at 10 a.m. at the Depot Annex in Thomson.
Of those attending, Yolanda Smalley, a domestic violence facilitator and survivor and a rape crisis advocate, said she wish there would have been resources in McDuffie County available for her during her time of need.
"When I got out of my abusive situation, there was no where to go because my husband wouldn't let me work; I had no money; I didn't have a car so, I was starting over from scratch,” she recalled. “I searched and searched until somebody finally said call Safe Homes in Augusta. But why couldn't we have something like that in McDuffie County?"
The Circuit is made up of Glascock County, Lincoln County, McDuffie County, Taliaferro County, Warren County and Wilkes County.
Attending the meeting were representatives from the McDuffie County Board of Education, Thomson Police, First Baptist Church, Department of Family and Children Services, Second Chance Counseling and more.
Family Violence Coordinator Stacey Seldon of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence traveled from New York to discuss implementing the task force.
"In addition to supporting task forces around the state, we work with legislative policy on domestic violence; we train across the state and also help publish and produce a fatality review on domestic violence every year where we count the domestic violence fatalities death and also cover a topical area every year," she said to the attending crowd.
Seldon gave tips and guidance about starting the task force in addition to answering any questions brought up.
She explained the commission has a task force toolkit modeled by the Deluth Model out of Minnesota.“Deluth was the first jurisdiction that formally organized around domestic violence and all of their systems to respond to domestic violence, and they did it in a connected way,” Seldon said. “Everyone, instead of working in silos on domestic violence and working alone- everyone is working in a connected way.”
The model wants the members of the task force to identify what each member brings to the table as a basic training.
“We ask task forces to first learn what each person on the task force does and how they experience domestic violence,” she said.
Seldon suggested the task force to focus on two issues to accomplish for the following year.
Charles Jones, who brought up the idea of the task force said the next meeting will be in October to elect members onto committees within the task force.