October 9, 2014 --
Sirens from police cruisers blared as more than 40 motorcycles crept behind, demanding attention from onlookers as the motorcade passed.
The slow-moving convoy was in support of the Domestic Violence Awareness Proclamation and Motorcycle Ride held Sept. 30 at the Chapel of the Good Shepherd at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.
The level of awareness the procession of motorcycles drew was symbolic. It was meant to draw attention to and make people aware of domestic violence, according to Capt. Christopher Collier, military operations and training officer, MCLB Albany.
According to Tonya Abner-Hall, director of the Dougherty County Victim Witness Assistance Office, many people are in domestically-violent environments and are not even aware of that fact.
“I grew up witnessing domestic violence,” Abner-Hall said.
However, Abner-Hall confessed to not understanding it was an unhealthy environment. Nor did she realize she was living in a domestically-violent home. In her mind, it was completely normal.
Hall recalled her pregnant sister becoming violent with her brother after he ate her dessert and he laughed when questioned about it. Hall said her sister attacked her brother, which led to the premature birth of her nephew.
Another incident involved her stepfather. Hall described her mother putting her stepfather out of the home, and him responding by pouring gasoline on the mail slot of the front door and putting a lit match into it. Hall had to be rescued by her brother. None of the many occurrences she witnessed resulted in a police being called to the home, she told the audience.
“I thought it was the norm,” Hall said. “Domestic violence is not normal and should never be accepted as such.”
That is verified by the statistic of 116 Georgians losing their lives due to domestic violence in 2013, according to the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.
Brenda Ray, prevention and education specialist, Family Advocacy Program, MCLB Albany, said awareness is imperative to ensuring prevention.
“Domestic violence is one of the least prosecuted crimes and one of the greatest threats to lasting peace,” Ray said.
She indicated the installation is committed to educating people about available resources and how to use those resources in the event relationships become unsafe.
The efforts are working, and people are speaking up and coming forward, Ray said.
During the ceremony, attendees enjoyed a poem reading and a musical selection, accompanied by a dramatic praise dance. The ceremony culminated with Col. Don Davis, commanding officer, MCLB Albany, signing a domestic violence proclamation.