Grants to help domestic violence, sexual assault victims

Crisis Services of North Alabama reports increase in severe forms of domestic violence
Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 8:56 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Helping victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. It’s what organizations in North Alabama do every day. In July, a couple of nonprofits got a boost from Governor Kay Ivey to continue that work.

Ivey awarded thousands of dollars in grants to two local organizations including Crisis Services of North Alabama, and Lawrence County Domestic Violence Unit.

The Lawrence County Domestic Violence Unit was awarded $66,843 to continue responding to calls from domestic violence victims in Lawrence County. Crisis Services of North Alabama was awarded $60,236 for its Forensic Nurse Examiner Program.

That program ensures sexual assault and domestic violence victims get forensic exams and follow-up care by specially trained nurses. The program serves victims in Jackson, Limestone, Madison and Morgan counties.

Development Manager Adde Waggoner said her team is thankful for the grants provided. However, the past couple of years have not been easy due to budget cuts and staffing concerns. She hopes state leaders continue to focus their efforts on helping assault victims.

“In the nonprofit world unfortunately, there has been a lot of funding cuts handed down the last couple years,” Waggoner said. “When we compile all those cuts together, it’s really very significant. The Forensic Nurse Examiner Program is a bedrock program of this organization, so we make sure that it is fully funded at all times. But of course with the nature of the work we do, we do tend to see some turnover because of vicarious trauma.”

Waggoner also said her team has seen a drastic increase in the most severe forms of domestic violence. This is a trend that started during the pandemic, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

“I think the last couple of years have been very stressful on folks across the board from job loss, to other financial insecurities, unrest across the country and across the world,” Waggoner said. “It really contributes to everybody’s state of mind and their mental health.”

Although Crisis Services of North Alabama was recently awarded grants from the state, Waggoner said previous cuts impacted them greatly. Leaders are trying to keep their services fully funded and staffed to keep up with the demand in victims seeking help.

“We want to make sure that folks know that there is support 24 hours a day, and we want folks to come forward if they feel comfortable and we will provide them support, and we see them, we hear them and we believe them.”

If you are experiencing a crisis, you can call their HELPline at 256-716-1000. A trained crisis counselor will provide support, and direct you to additional services.

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