MOULTRIE, Ga. — On Tuesday, Oct. 11, Colquitt County Serenity House Project will host the annual vigil to promote education, awareness and support for survivors and families of victims of domestic violence. The ceremony will be held in the commissioners meeting room in the courthouse annex at 7 p.m. Anyone who is a survivor of domestic violence or the family of a domestic violence victim is invited to attend.

“October is domestic violence awareness month,” said Serenity House Executive Director Shannon Morgan. “You may have noticed the purple bows on many of the businesses around town. These bows help serve as a reminder that domestic violence affects us all. According to the 2015 Georgia Domestic Violence Fatality Review Project, published by the Georgia Commission on Domestic violence, at least 140 Georgia residents lost their lives as a result of domestic violence in 2015.”

Colquitt County Serenity House Project Inc., which hosts the annual event, was established in 2001 and is a non-profit domestic violence shelter. Now in its 15th year, Serenity House staff provides safe shelter, food, clothing and weekday transportation for the residents, as well as a variety of case management services.

One of the most vital components of the program is a 24-hour crisis line (229-890-7233). Morgan said people call the crisis line for a variety of reasons. Many times it is because the individual is seeking shelter, but not always.

“When someone calls our crisis line the advocate will provide them with a listening and compassionate ear, community resources and assist that person with a safety plan,” Morgan said. “Our number one priority is to make sure that the caller is safe or can get to a safe place. Sometimes that means coming into the shelter, other times it means working with that individual to get them to a friend or family member’s home or it could be assisting them with putting a safety plan together to keep them safe in their own home.”

This year alone Serenity House has received 151 crisis calls and they have served 43 women and 37 children in shelter.

An important key to disrupting the cycle of domestic violence is education. Morgan is adamant that domestic violence affects the whole community, whether its friends, family, classmates or co-workers.

“It may be the reason your employee is absent from work so often,” she said. “It’s hard to pay attention in school when you were up all night because you were too afraid to go to sleep. The control and manipulation of the abuser can and does wreak havoc in the survivor’s life. You may never see any bruises, but that does not mean abuse is not happening.

“Our goal at Serenity House is not only to provide a safe environment for women and their children,” she said. “It is also to educate the community so that they can be aware of the signs and symptoms of those that are in an abusive relationship. Most survivors are not going to readily tell someone what is happening. We can help them best by knowing what to look for and asking the right questions.”

For more information or if you would like to donate to Colquitt County Serenity House, please contact Morgan at 229-782-5394 or financial donation may be sent to: Colquitt County Serenity House Project, Inc., P.O. Box 14, Moultrie, Georgia 31776.

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