Criminal Justice Professor Honored for Domestic Violence Education


Dr. Natalie Johnson knows it is impossible to rid the world of domestic violence. But if she makes a difference in the life of at least one person, all the work has been worth it.

Johnson, associate professor of criminal justice at Dalton State, was recently awarded the Betty Higgins Domestic Violence Victim Advocate Award for the work she does in the community. Higgins, who is now deceased, was the former director of the Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center.

The award is given annually to victim advocates or those who work for community awareness of domestic violence. Johnson serves as chair of the board for the crisis center.

“This award holds a special place in my heart,” she said. “I was always curious to know what would make someone hurt someone they supposedly love. This is what steered me into my college education and now my career. Knowing my best friend is one of hundreds of thousands of survivors spurred me to do what I could to educate people on domestic violence and child abuse. With education comes prevention.

“I never met Betty Higgins, but I know her shoes are big ones to fill,” Johnson said. “It was a complete honor and surprise to have won this award. I did not go into this field to win awards, but it is so heartwarming when people recognize the work you put into a social issue you feel so passionately about. This award shows me that I am making a difference in our community, and knowing that continues to fuel the fire that drives me to teach and help those that cannot help themselves or have no voice. I was meant to be in this profession.”