By Virginia DuPre, resident of unincorporated DeKalb
Within the professional circles that work with domestic violence, the definition of emotional abuse includes: making the abused feel crazy, playing mind games on the abused, controlling what the abused does - who they talk to/limiting involvement and access to others, making light of the abuse, not taking the concerns about the abuse seriously, saying the abuse is not happening, shifting responsibility from the abuser to the abused - blaming the abused for the
DeKalb County is guilty of all of the above in its actions toward its citizens. House Bill 22 introduced by Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver of Druid Hills illustrates and exacerbates the problem because it only locks the doors on those neighborhoods ready to take the initiative of trying to find their way out of the abuse.
In an abusive relationship, it takes a lot of courage, effort, and persistence to leave an abuser. Leaving takes a plan and it takes supporters from outside the family system who are willing to help provide safety for the victims and a way for them to get on their feet and support themselves. Very well intentioned people who want the best for the abused say, “stay...work it out...itʼs better for the family and the children to stay together.”
DeKalb residents need a pathway to get out from under their abusive county government. Oliverʼs bill does just the opposite. House Bill 22 locks the door on DeKalb residents who, after years of trying to make it work, now dare to take the risk and make the investment in trying to leave the county by incorporating themselves as a city.
Rather than addressing the problem of the abuser - DeKalbʼs dysfunctional government — this bill demands residents to stay and ʻwork it outʼ with their abuser. It locks the doors for a minimum of two years on any neighborhoods working on leaving the county by annexation or incorporation and it requires those who want to leave to get permission from the county before they leave. Getting permission from the abuser to leave is a very dangerous thing that can result in death in actual domestic violence situations.
The primary concern driving this bill, Iʼm sure, is concern about DeKalb County government losing tax dollars to the new cities. But this bill merely places protection around the corrupt govt and not behind the hard working, taxpaying citizens of the county. DeKalb governmentʼs loss of the tax dollars of the communities that want to leave is a consequence of its own misuse of power and the resulting lack of trust by its people. It is DeKalb Countyʼs elected officials problem to figure out, not the people who have been pummeled by this government over and over again wanting to organize and pay the cost of leaving the county.
Some would say this is a race issue. Certainly, generations of racism and classism play a part in where we are as a county now, but this is not ultimately about race or class. To boil it down to race is an attack on black individuals as well as black communities who are just as fed up with the corruption of DeKalb government as other citizens. DeKalbʼs corruption and abuse is about a misuse of power and about corruption in the executive branch - not about race or class.
People of Georgia, DeKalb residents need your help in getting a safe pathway to local independence. Hereʼs how you can help: please tell your representative to vote against House Bill 22. Dekalb residents, let Mary Margaret Oliver know that you want her to support any constituents who are ready to make the effort and pay the costs of freeing themselves of the abuse of the Dekalb County Government.