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Turning a light onto domestic violence

POSTED: October 3, 2013 8:08 p.m.
Photo by Paul Floeckher/

Ruth Brown closed the candlelight vigil with a poetry reading.

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For years, the only way Kay Grandgeorge could cope with being abused by her first husband was to write journal entries.


With those violent days behind her, she is now a voice for women who are suffering in silence.


“I lived in so much fear. I was scared. I was beaten down,” Grandgeorge said, “but I don’t live in that fear anymore. God has given me the boldness to take a stand against domestic abuse.”


Grandgeorge spoke Tuesday at the Effingham Victim Witness Assistance Program’s annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month candlelight vigil, in honor of all victims of abuse in their home.


Living in fear, she said, is why so many women stay in an abusive marriage or relationship. Grandgeorge explained that she didn’t leave because she had low self-esteem, only a high school education and two children to care and provide for.


“But on December the 4th, 2004,” Grandgeorge said, “I stood up to my husband of 31 years and I told him, ‘I’m tired of living this way, and I don’t have to live this way anymore.’


“That was the day that changed my life forever.”


Grandgeorge said she “was thrown out of my house with just the clothes on my back,” and had to get a court order to retrieve her personal belongings from the home. Her divorce was finalized in 2005.


“That was the very best thing that could have ever happened to me,” she said, “because I found Kay. I found who I was. I was no longer a victim. I lived victorious.”


Free from more than three decades of torment, she finally met the man she describes as “the love of my life.” She married David Grandgeorge, the pastor of Guyton Christian Church, in 2007.


Although home life is happy now, Grandgeorge continues to keep journals. She said she has “boxes of journals,” and she thinks any victims of domestic abuse would benefit from the cathartic act of writing down what they’re going through.


Grandgeorge shared a couple of her journal entries, including one she wrote on Aug. 11, 2000. One of her children was sick that morning, but her abusive husband purposely drove her car to work to prevent her from taking the child to the doctor.


“The abuser does everything they can to take everything away,” Grandgeorge said. “I could not even take my child that day to the doctor. You see how they isolate you? And how they take things away from you?”


She also read a journal entry from Dec. 2, 1996. The police had come to her house that morning and written a report after another of her husband’s violent outbursts.


“They told me, ‘Lady, you might not be so lucky next time,’” Grandgeorge recalled.


Her frustration came through in the opening sentence: “Father, I just don’t know what to do.” She asked God for guidance.


“He believes he can control his violent temper all by himself, but, Lord, I know he can’t,” Grandgeorge read. “It is just a matter of time before he explodes again in a rage. I’m reaching out for help, but I know I can’t do this all by myself.”


Unfortunately, Grandgeorge told the crowd, she was alone in reaching out for guidance.


“Did he ever seek help? No,” she said.


At least 1,200 people in Georgia died due to domestic abuse from 2003-12, and Georgia recently ranked 10th-highest in the nation for its rate of men killing women, according to the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.


Ruth Brown, who has been with the Effingham Victim Witness Assistance Program for 11 years, closed the candlelight vigil with a poetry reading. The poem “Life on the Inside” tells the story of a woman who feels trapped and alone in her abusive house.


Its final two lines could describe the hope of any number of domestic violence victims: “Her pleading can be heard carried softly by angels to the world outside … Someone come and save me and loose the strings he has so tightly tied.”

Domestic violence statistics
• 65,788 — Crisis calls to Georgia’s certified domestic violence agencies in 2012
• 71,415 — Domestic violence incidents that law enforcement officers responded to in Georgia in 2011
• 22,206 — Protective and stalking orders issued in Georgia in 2012
• 7,550 — Victims and children who were provided refuge in a Georgia domestic violence shelter in 2012
• 3,991 — Victims who made a request for shelter but request was not met due to lack of space in 2012
Source: The Georgia Commission on Family Violence. For more information, go to www.gcfv.org.

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