Support for victims vital part of ending family violence

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala – Domestic violence accounted for 16% of all violent offenses investigated by law enforcement in Alabama – according to the most recent data from ALEA.

With that in mind, Governor Kay Ivey recently awarded a $1.7 million grant to the Crisis Center of North Alabama, which assists domestic violence victims. Prosecutors and advocates say those services are vital in helping aid victims and ending family violence.

30 homicide, 283 rapes, 111 robberies, 3,867 aggravated assaults…That’s a break down of domestic violence cases in Alabama from 2017.

Madison County Assistant District Attorney Tim Douthit says domestic violence is a misdemeanor unless the case involves a deadly weapon or serious physical injury.

“It doesn’t become a felony until your third conviction and your first two convictions for these misdemeanors have to be before you even commit the third one,” Douthit explained.

On top of that, he says the cases can be difficult to prosecute.

“It’s hard to get those people into court and once they’re in court it’s hard to get them to actually testify against the offender,” he said.

He says calls domestic violence “insidious”.

“With domestic violence, it’s almost like a poison that seeps into a relationship, but it doesn’t destroy the relationship. And so what you have is this kind of hybrid love/hate relationship that still exists and you can’t use the fact that there’s violence to cut it off like we would have on a normal violent crime,” he explained.

Douthit says in the cases where he has seen a victim be able to walk away from a relationship that involves domestic violence the victim has had support.

“We’re that support for someone. We’re there to empower that person to help them go towards making their own decisions,” said Becky Cecil, Crisis Center of North Alabama said.

Becky Cecil with crisis services says abusive relationships tend to escalate.

“Typically when someone leaves a domestic violence relationship is the most dangerous,” she said.

That’s why Crisis Services of North Alabama has two shelters and every year the organization helps more people than the year before.

Cecil wants everyone to be aware their help is free and they are here so that no one has to leave an abusive relationship alone.

Crisis Services of North Alabama also provides help for victims of sexual assault and others who may be in crisis.

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