Domestic Violence and Homelessness in Birmingham

Domestic Violence Services

Warning: The following post summarizes instances of domestic violence and includes links to graphic descriptions of violence. Domestic violence is a reality that affects many in our community.

Recently several women in our community have been murdered by their current or former partners. In March, Angelica Jones was shot to death by her estranged boyfriend. In June, Rashon Deidrenette Bester Epps was fatally shot by her husband. In July, Deborah Diane Prater died two days after her ex-boyfriend doused her in gasoline and set her on fire. These horrific and heartbreaking instances of domestic violence are not uncommon in Alabama. According to the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence, there were 24 reported domestic violence homicides in Alabama in 2012. That same year, there were 2,722 reported domestic violence aggravated assaults and 32,995 reported domestic violence simple assaults. For these statistics and more, click here. For national statistics, click here.

A person who is experiencing domestic violence is often unable to leave because their abuser is not just physically abusive, but also emotionally manipulative and in control of many/all aspects of their life, including their finances. On average, it takes a domestic violence survivor seven times to successfully leave their abuser. When a domestic violence survivor is able to leave their abuser, they often lack the financial and emotional support to make it on their own. Unfortunately, this means that many people who leave a domestic violence situation then experience homelessness. According to this year’s Point-in-Time count, out of the 1,329 people experiencing homelessness in the Birmingham area on any given night, 209 are survivors of domestic violence. That means over 15% of people experiencing homelessness in our community are survivors of domestic violence. These community members and all who experience domestic violence deserve to feel safe and be in an environment where they can gain stability.

In central Alabama, we have shelters and transitional housing programs for women who’ve experienced / are experiencing domestic violence. In these programs, survivors of domestic violence can feel safe and gain stability. In our area, women who’ve experienced domestic violence can receive services at SafeHouse of Shelby County and the YWCA of Central Alabama. Please follow the links to learn more about these amazing agencies and the work they’re doing to keep survivors of domestic violence safe and end domestic violence in our community. People experiencing domestic violence can also contact the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s 24-hour crisis hotline for assistance: 1-800-650-6522. People experiencing domestic violence can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY for those who are hearing impaired: 1-800-787-3224.

At One Roof we believe that preventing and ending homelessness is a community effort. We also believe that ending domestic violence is a community effort. It is our responsibility as a community to educate ourselves about the services available to people experiencing domestic violence and to make those services known to anyone who might need them.

We will not forget the 209 survivors of domestic violence who experience homelessness on any given night in central Alabama. We will not forget Angelica, Rashon, and Deborah, and the other members of our community whose lives were taken by their abusers. No person deserves to be abused. No person deserves to die at the hands of their abuser. And no person should have to make the decision between staying with an abuser or becoming homeless.  There is help available if you are experiencing domestic violence and/or if you know someone who might be experiencing domestic violence. Please contact SafeHouse, the YWCA, and the ACADV if you or anyone you know is in need of help.

Josh Helms is an AmeriCorps alum who served at One Roof as the Capacity Building Assistant from 2013-2014. 

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