Collaborating resources is the key to preventing and better serving domestic violence victims. October is Domestic Violence month, and members of United Way’s Young Philanthropists Society attended a panel discussion on the topic, featuring staff from local agencies that offer resources to survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse or assault.
Birmingham’s network of available resources includes the YWCA, the Crisis Center (including Rape Response), Safehouse of Shelby County, One Place Metro Alabama Family Justice Center, and support from the Birmingham Police Department’s Special Victims Unit as well as the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office. Panelists at the luncheon shared how they collaborate as one group to shelter and support victims in their time of need.
“For us,” expressed Leigh Haver from One Place, “collaboration is our existence. We exist because of an effort to support the victims and survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. It’s critical for us to have these partners around the table, and collaboration is happening every day.”
In an effort not to re-victimize the survivors by having them recount their stories and experiences multiple times, each partner organization collaborates through One Place as a warm blanket of service to wrap around survivors as they pick up the pieces. Victims are able to receive the help they need without the arduous task of contacting and meeting with multiple agencies in different parts of town.
When asked how to take the knowledge learned at the luncheon and enhance the community, all panelists shared a similar sentiment. What’s important is to be open and honest, and to help those who might be too frightened to help themselves. Panelists agreed that especially given the media’s recent focus on sexual harassment and assault, everyone should take the opportunity to educate themselves and others.
“Domestic violence and sexual assault have been closed door issues for so long, and so many people consider it a private issue that they shouldn’t get involved with,” lamented Amanda Carmichael, Assistant Director of Domestic Violence Services, YWCA. “We’re talking about a life and death situation, though. Using your voice to speak up might just be a lifesaver that you throw to someone else.”
If you’d like more information on the Crisis Center & Rape Response, YWCA, Safehouse of Shelby County, One Place, Jefferson County District Attorney’s office or the Birmingham Police Department, please visit the linked sites. Panelists also urged attendants and community members to add the crisis hotline numbers to their phones: 205-322-4878 (YWCA) and 205-669-7233 (Safehouse).
United Way’s Young Philanthropists Society is dedicated to making a difference in our community through outreach and fundraising opportunities, while creating a legacy through United Way of Central Alabama. If you’re interested in membership, future events or volunteer opportunities, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org