October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
By Desiree Taylor
According to statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 1-in-3 women and 1-in-4 men are victims of domestic violence, demonstrating the need for awareness and advocacy.
Whitley Hall, Staff Attorney for LSA’s Montgomery office, who works directly with domestic violence victims, believes education is imperative for awareness.
“It is extremely important for the community to be informed about the legal remedies available for domestic violence victims,” Hall said, who sees nearly 10 victims across eight counties monthly. “The more the community knows, the more likely it will be that victims will receive the resources necessary to break the cycle of domestic violence.”
Hall gives the following tips on how victims of domestic violence can protect themselves:
· Establish a protection plan. Hall says this plan is a plan of action to determine where a victim will go if he/she must escape from the home during an attack. Additionally, the plan should assess the victim’s and/or any children’s needs if they are forced to leave.
· Gather important information. This information includes copies of documents such as: passports, birth certificates, social security cards, insurance papers, work permits or green cards, ownership documents for car(s) and/or house(s), checkbooks and back account numbers. Hide papers at your place of employment or a friend’s house. Know the abuser’s social security number, birth date, and place of birth.
· Consider obtaining a Protection from Abuse Order. This document will direct an abuser not to contact, communicate with, attack, sexually assault or telephone the victim, children, or family members. If the victim has a protection order, he/she must carry a copy of the document with him/her at all times.
LSA Interim Executive Director Jaffe Pickett, elaborated on the important role Legal Services Alabama plays in helping victims:
“Domestic violence destroys families, disrupts communities, and has lifelong adverse effects on the children involved,” Pickett said. “Studies show that the most effective way to end the cycle of abuse is to help victims become independent of their abusers and maintain their independence. Low-income victims, however, often remain in abusive marriages or relationships because they can’t afford the legal help needed to get a divorce or protection order. That’s where LSA steps in: we are often the last ray of hope for DV victims in Alabama, and it is our mission to help.”
The community, Hall stated, can also help in the fight to stop domestic violence and offer hope to victims.
“My job allows me to help my clients break the cycle of domestic violence,” Hall said. “To victims, you are not to blame and you are not the cause of your partner’s abusive behavior – you deserve respect, happiness and to feel safe. In order to end domestic violence, we must implement more prevention programs as well as provide more resources to support centers. You [as the victim] are not alone. People are here to help.”
If you are a victim of domestic violence and are in need of legal assistance, LSA can help! Please visit www.legalservicesalabama.org or call the toll free intake: 1-866-456-4995 for more information.