Center assists victims of violence

Published 4:53 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Family Sunshine Center has been a bastion of hope for victims of domestic violence for the past 30 years, and the organization shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

The center exists to bring health and healing to not only women, but also victims of violence in any of its forms.

Seven counties — Autauga, Butler, Chilton, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lowndes and Montgomery — have contributed between 2,300 and 2,500 crises calls on average each year to the organization.

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Melanie Beasley, pubic affairs director of the Family Sunshine Center, said that more people are subjected to domestic violence than people think.

“Across the board, it happens to one in four women in a lifetime,” Beasley said.

“The statistics differ in terms of men and women.  We suspect that the number of male victims is underestimated because many cases go unreported.”

But it’s not just men that are often unwilling to speak out.  Being a victim of domestic violence is a difficult situation for men, women and children alike.

“It comes with a lot of guilt, a lot of shame and a lot of self blame,” Beasley added.

“It’s not easy for a woman to talk about either — in fact, one of the things I’ve looked at is how we can get motivate more women to call our crisis line or come in to our shelter.”

That forward thinking is what has kept the Family Sunshine Center relevant in its mission to educate the general public about family violence and sexual assault.

As such, the center has employed a full range of prevention programs across several demographics for the purposes of stopping such instances from occurring in the first place.

Many of these prevention programs involve going out into the community and speaking to different civic groups and church organizations about what domestic violence is and how to refer someone for their services.

But chief among those populations in need of educating are young children and the problems they often experience with bullying.

According to Beasley, the approach is to stop bullying before it can develop into something more.

“Our main goal is helping them understand that bullying isn’t about anger, but the desire to have power and control over another individual,” Beasley said.

“If you don’t intervene with a 10-year-old bully, that person might grow up to become a 25 or 30-year-old bully.”

Yello Dyno is another program aimed at very young children, teaching them how to avoid strangers and, more importantly, dangerous people that live within their own families.

“In this age where children are abducted off school buses, it hits way closer to home,” Beasley said.

“It’s important for our little ones to have some background on what to do.”

Child Abuse Prevention Month is this month, and the Family Sunshine Center plans to renew its partnership with the Montgomery Exchange Club to make free fingerprint cards available to parents of small children at Eastdale Mall.

For more information about domestic violence and possible means of prevention, call the Family Sunshine Center crisis hotline at (800) 650-6522.