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New task force focuses on ending domestic violence
Winn Army Community Hospital nurse Allena Douglas and Annette and Ron Benneche, owners of S.E.R.V.E. LLC, a professional counseling service in Hinesville, have formed the Liberty County Family Violence Intervention Task Force to fill a need in the community. - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon

A new task force focused on eliminating family violence is in the fledging stages of development in Liberty County.

Annette and Ron Benneche and Allena Douglas hope the newly formed Liberty County Family Violence Intervention Task Force will fill a need in the community.

According to the Georgia Commission on Family Violence’s website, the General Assembly created the commission to develop a comprehensive state plan for ending family violence in Georgia. In the past Liberty County had a task force but that group has been inactive for the last 10 years.

According to the most recent list of available task forces dated March 26, the list of task forces in the state shows that the Atlantic Judicial Circuit, which serves Liberty, Long, Bryan, Tattnall, Evans and McIntosh counties, was inactive.

“What we think happened in this area — because this is such a transient area, where military people are here for a short period of time — I think there was a task force way back … and they were active and had resources and services,” Annette Benneche said. “But I guess throughout the years, the people who provided those services moved out. … It kind of fell on the wayside.”

The Benneches own S.E.R.V.E. LLC, a professional counseling service that has been in Hinesville for more than two years. They have a second office in Greensboro.

“The task force is in the beginning stages,” Ron Benneche said. “Hopefully, we will have this up and running two to three months after the first of the year.”

“The military has some similar services, but nothing to the extent that the community offers,” said Douglas, a nurse at Winn Army Community Hospital. “And I think as a community and as a community that encompasses the military, that we can all come together, put something together and work together to take care of everybody. One of our goals is to educate the community and get the community involved. We need the support of our local community. We hope to get our churches, doctors, medical staff and hospitals involved.”

Annette Benneche said the group is working diligently with other local entities, including churches, law enforcement, medical facilities, counseling services, homeless coalitions and food banks, to put everything in place.

“So that we would have the resources and provide education and inform people about the services that are provided for people and families going through domestic violence,” she said. “The Tri-County Protective Agency is on board with us, as well as several other agencies, to get this done. We’ve also met with counselors from the school system to help provide the educational component.”

Benneche said that in addition to helping victims of family violence, the program plans to address the counseling needed to help the perpetrator.

“Right now, I am the one licensed professional counselor,” she said. “Then I have two facilitators who have been trained to work with the groups as well, and so they can help us with the perpetrators and their services as well.”

She said perpetrators’ mental-health issues must be addressed to stop repeat abuse and break the cycle of violence.

For now, those seeking Family Violence counseling are able to meet Tuesdays from 5-7 p.m.

Ron Benneche said the program also recognizes victims often forgotten —children.

“We have committee member on the task force here who does the Blanket and Bears Program,” he said. “When law enforcement is called and the children are there she comforts them with a blanket and bear.”

He added that there is a need to develop a nurturing environment for children who at times might see law enforcement in a negative light because of their intervention in domestic issues. He said programs like Blanket and Bears help create that nurturing environment.

Benneche wants the community to know the newly formed task force plans to put down deep roots in the community.

“We aren’t going away in 10 years. … We aren’t going anywhere,” he said. “We have an established business here in Liberty County and a house here. So this task force is not going to be here today and gone in the next year or two. … We plan to be here for a long, long time.”

“We are all volunteering our services because we care about our community,” Douglas added.

For more information, to offer support, services or donations or if you are in need of assistance call 912-463-4772.

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