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Ending Abuse: Linda Newton's Big Challenge

Linda Newton, a Lilburn resident and community activist, is taking on a new role to do more to end domestic violence.

Ending Abuse: Linda Newton's Big Challenge
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published August 16, 2012.)

Linda Newton doesn't know abuse like the women she's helping, and the women she wants to help.

Maybe she's seen pictures, heard stories, met survivors. But, she doesn't have a personal story.

Truthfully, though, it does not matter. Newton knows this: That it's awareness and a giving, open heart that makes all the difference for women dealing with domestic violence.

"I'm very grateful that I have not experienced the kind of things these women are going through, but I've seen it, and you don't forget," she said, "especially since it isn't only the women, it's the children. And, it repeats from generation to generation.

"So, our only hope to actually stop domestic violence is to help these women help their children get out of it, so they can experience a different life."

New Role, Big Mission

In Newton's new role as the General Federation of Women's Club's state chairwoman for domestic violence programs, she hopes to do just that. A member of the Lilburn Woman's Club for the past two years, she's already worked as the co-chairwoman for domestic violence awareness locally.

During her two years as the state chairwoman, she wants to make a serious impact with the organization's three main areas: domestic violence, child abuse and elder abuse. With 150 clubs in Georgia and membership at 5,000, Newton has her work cut out for her.

Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, is the main cause. The national organization has partnered with Partnership Against Domestic Violence to raise more awareness about the issue.

"It's not a pleasant subject," Newton said. "People just feel like, they're afraid almost of dealing with it. But, it doesn't make it go away."

According to a recently released study by the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C., Georgia is ranked No. 6 for the rate at which men kill women. About 40 percent of the time, children were present during these killings, according to data from a state fatality review in 2011.

The fatality review also showed that there were nearly 70,000 calls to Georgia's certified domestic violence agencies. However, just 9,500 women found refuge inside a shelter, with almost 3,000 women being turned away due to lack of space, according to the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Women Saving Women

To Newton, those figures are disquieting. That's why she and other women of the local woman's clubs are working to help ensure the Gwinnett County Safe House has the resources it needs. (To learn more about the campaign for the Gwinnett County Safe House, click here.)

"One in four women encounter domestic violence in their lifetime, so almost as soon as you tell somebody that, they've got a story -- about somebody in their family, somebody who is a friend who's going through it, and people are looking for answers," Newton said.

In addition to supporting the safe house in Gwinnett County, Newton is also focused on making contacts and raising awareness in child abuse and elderly abuse across the state. With child abuse, for example, the state organization will be working with Prevent Child Abuse Georgia.

First, Newton needs to meet with the chapters across Georgia, so she can be the visible cheerleader for the movement going forward. This includes working with chapters to fine-tune their efforts, and expand the state's relationships with other organizations.

"Probably one of the best things about being part of the federation of women's clubs is that there is a tremendous amount of synergy between women working together to get things accomplished," Newton said.

Newton's confident in her new role. Maybe she won't end abuse; many have tried. But, she's doing her part to try. That's all anyone can ask of her.

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