OUR OPINION: Domestic Violence crackdown needed in Vicksburg

Published 4:00 am Sunday, November 12, 2023

A domestic abuse incident ended in the worst possible way this week, when two Simpson County residents staying at Eagle Lake died in a murder-suicide.

The community is saddened by this turn of events, but further investigation into the case showed a long history of domestic violence arrests on the part of the male suspect, who shot his girlfriend, Gabrielle Tatum, before turning the gun on himself. The outcome left many people wondering how the situation escalated to the point of death.

The sad truth is, domestic violence is all too common in Mississippi — especially in the Vicksburg area. During Monday’s open meeting with the Vicksburg Police Department, Chief Penny Jones provided proof that domestic violence is the most common call her office receives. 

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At a soft opening for Jones’ nonprofit, the Peni Center, she revealed that last year, the police department responded to nearly 400 domestic violence calls — at times, more than one a day. 

“These calls are the worst ones we receive,” Jones said Monday.

In a town with nine confirmed homicides so far this year, and coming from a career officer like Jones, that’s a powerful statement.

In addition to the Peni Center, which is set to open next month, Vicksburg and Warren County are awash with organizations that help female and male victims of domestic violence, as well as children. Organizations like Haven House Family Shelter, Lifting Lives, the Warren County Children’s Shelter and more are eager to help victims. 

Individually, as residents we need to commit to helping victims when we can. So often, the societal norm is to turn a blind eye when abuse takes place. But we can’t expect change to happen without actively combating the issue. 

Residents can directly and indirectly help victims of domestic violence by volunteering with local organizations, providing emotional support or simply making a donation or calling the appropriate authorities if they witness concerning behaviors. 

Domestic violence is evil, plain and simple. It can happen to anyone and is one of the most difficult cycles for victims to break. While so many victims, like Tatum, were not saved in time, the community can band together to say, “No more.”