Funding released to fight domestic violence

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Alabama Senator Richard Shelby recently announced the Department of Justice is releasing $1.8 million to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) for the STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program.

"I am pleased to announce over $1.8 million for these important violence against women prevention programs in Alabama," said Shelby in an official statement. "These funds will help enhance services for abuse victims and ensure those who commit these crimes are held accountable."

Ann Tate, Chairperson of the Crenshaw County Domestic Violence Task Force, is pleased with the news and said she's thankful to Shelby as well as state and local officials for recognizing the seriousness of domestic violence.

"We appreciate this funding," said Tate.

Founded in 2004, Tate said the task force has made 'tangible progress' towards combating domestic assault and abuse inside Crenshaw County.

"Since the organization of the task force," said Tate, "we have seen increased victim referrals to available resources, establishment of criminal trespass policies against offenders at our housing complexes, policies established at the hospital, location of warehouse space to accept donated furnishing for the benefit of victims of domestic violence, and donation of space for a billboard."

Kathy Jones, a Rural Outreach Specialist with the Family Sunshine Center, said what the task force has accomplished in Crenshaw County.

"It's really an example of a community pulling together to help others," she said.

Jones said many victims of abuse are economically dependent on their spouses and can be made to feel guilty about seeking or having a job. One of the ways in which the task force has helped is to provide donations of furniture and household appliances for victims seeking to start a new life away from their abusers.

"I had a client in the county who needed a refrigerator and stove," said Jones. "The next day there was three of each donated to the task force by people in the community."

Jones said it is important to have strong programs like the task force in place because victims then realize they will have support from the community. However, it can be a timely process, especially for the wife or girlfriend who has become caught in cycle of domestic violence.

"From my experience it usually takes seven to 10 times of leaving the abuser before a woman can actually make a complete break," said Jones.

Melanie Smith, a spokesperson for the Family Sunshine Center, said the center would be making applications for the STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program in the future. The center currently receives $22,900 annually through ADECA as part of the Violence Against Women act, which helps staff the center's crisis hot line during from midnight to 8 a.m., Monday through Friday.