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Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Domestic Violence Taskforce active in Crenshaw

While many may know the month of October to be Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it also serves as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

During the month, purple ribbons are displayed to show support for those affected as well as to keep the public aware of these occurrences.

“Two thirds of our domestic calls have become physical to some degree, whether it be pushing, shoving, slapping, throwing an object or something like that,” said Mason Adcock, investigator with the Luverne Police Department.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), domestic violence is defined as the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats and emotional or psychological abuse.

“There has to be some type of established relationship by blood relation or living together,” Adcock said.

So far in 2016, the Luverne Police Department has seen 22 reported cases of domestic violence and have made 13 arrests from these incidents. All reported domestic violence incidents for 2016 were misdemeanors; no felony domestic violence incidents were reported.

“……….It is our intention to pursue these cases,” Adcock said.

“Out of 22 cases reported this year, we’re only showing 13 arrests, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some of those 22 that are still pending. There may be an outstanding warrant for an individual and we just haven’t executed yet.”

Kristi Maddox, director of the Crenshaw County Department of Human Resources (DHR) has seen her fair share of domestic violence cases over the years.

“I have seen so many child abuse and neglect investigations where domestic violence is involved in it. I would say 40 percent of the investigations that we become involved in, to some degree, involve domestic violence,” Maddox said.

“It’s such a huge issue, especially in Crenshaw County.”

Maddox noted that in 2004, a Domestic Violence Abuse Taskforce was created in Crenshaw County; to this day it serves as one of two active taskforces in the state.

Kathy Smyth, director of the Safe Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center in Greenville, serves on the taskforce along with Maddox and other members of the community.

According to Smyth, this program began as part of a prototype program through the Family Sunshine Center Domestic Violence Program in Montgomery.

“We felt like we needed to be more hands on with the people in our county, so they sort of set us up, and we’ve been running ever since,” Smyth said.

“The purpose of it is to bring awareness to our own community as well as provide services and assistance for our domestic violence victims and families in Crenshaw County.”

The group typically does a fundraiser dinner and silent auction every year, but this year will not be hosting one.

“We’ve had trainings on the signs and symptoms, what do you do if someone reveals they are being abused and mistreated, who do you call, how do you address it, what do you say, as well as what to look for,” Smyth said.

Those in need of help are not required to go through an agency to enlist the help of the taskforce; Smyth says she or other members can be contacted directly.

“It’s very informal. They can reach out to us personally or through our agencies,” Smyth said.

“There’s counselling available and a lot of layered services. There are active members right now from the DA’s office, DHR, Safe Harbor, the Clerk’s office, usually someone represented from ministerial, the Housing Authority and then there may be general interested people from the community.”