7 clients have used new DV program

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 16, 2017

The new South Alabama Victim Services Collaborative has served seven clients since they opened in January.

Amanda Hart, victims’ services coordinator, and Stephanie Fore, Covington County advocate, spoke to the Lions Club on Wednesday.

Hart explained that the collaborative serves victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking.

“Human trafficking hasn’t quite made its way here,” she said. “It’s slowly trickling. We hope to head it off before it gets to us.”

She said that they get referrals from law enforcement, DHR, walk-ins, and the hospital.

“There are several ways they can end up in our office,” she said. “We’ve had two in Greenville in the last week and a half that are rape cases. So far, 90 percent of our cases in Covington County have been domestic violence cases.”

They are partnered with Youth Advocate Programs.

“We are the first domestic violence program they have partnered with. We are also partnered with the city of Andalusia.”

The Andalusia Police Department secured the grant which funds the organization.

Hart said SAVSC will help victims find emergency housing, shelter, food, clothing, and education. They will also help them fill out paper work to get Protection from Abuse orders or file a warrant.

“We want to assist them in getting their GED, or if they want to go to college we want to help them go through the process of getting them back in school,” she said. “We also want to help them find a job. We have a job board in our office. We keep that updated quite frequently.”

She said the goal is to make the victim self-sufficient.

“We are looking at hosting a support group,” she said. “It will be open to anyone who wants to come.”

They are also looking at holding a 5K in October.

“Our goal is to make this program self-sufficient,” she said. “We have a lot of resources in this county.”

Churches are heavily involved.

“We have several churches who have offered food banks,” she said.

Hart said they really could use the community’s help to provide emergency supplies to the victims.

They are looking for things such as clothing, non-perishable food items, baby wipes, and diapers.

“We want to make an emergency kit,” Fore said.

Hart said that a lot of the women who leave don’t take anything with them.

Domestic violence victims who need shelter are taken to the House of Ruth in Dothan.

The Bethesda House in Opp isn’t open yet, but they hope to use that facility once it opens.

“They are working on getting that facility open and up to code,” Hart said. “She is telling me six to eight months. We are very heavily keeping our fingers cross that that is going to happen.”