October 1, 2015
Annetta Nunn, community outreach coordinator for the YWCA Central Alabama, keeps a collection of obituaries in her office to remind her of why her work is so important.
Each one represents the life of a woman killed by someone who had claimed to love her. The obituaries, complete with photos of the victims in happier times, are proof of the message that Nunn tries to share with anyone who will listen: Domestic violence happens everywhere.
“It doesn’t discriminate,” Nunn, a former Birmingham police chief said. “It can happen to anyone – young or old, rich or poor, black or white. Nobody goes into a relationship thinking she will be beaten or killed, but it happens every day.”
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Nunn will take every opportunity to reach victims, educate the public and share information about the YWCA’s lifesaving services. “Whenever I speak to groups, I tell them to look around the room,” she said. “Someone in there is currently a victim, has been a victim or knows someone who has been a victim. We also let them know that while we mostly refer to victims as women, we know that men are victims, too, and we offer services to them, as well.”
The statistics are frightening:
· Each day, four women lose their lives at the hands of an intimate partner.
· More women are injured by domestic violence than by automobile accidents, muggings or rapes by strangers combined.
· Nearly one in 10 children witness domestic violence, and boys who witness the crime are twice as likely to become abusers themselves.
· Last year, 20,086 calls to the YWCA’s 24-hour Crisis Line were made. On a typical day, more than 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
“A lot of times victims think there isn’t a way out, but there is,” Nunn said. The first step is to ask for help. Victims should call the YWCA’s Crisis Hotline at 205-322-4878 or the Statewide Crisis Hotline number at 1-800-650-6522. The YW operates two confidential emergency shelters – one in Jefferson County and another that serves St. Clair and Blount counties. The YWCA also provides counseling and case management and helps victims find housing and childcare.
“Often, women who have been abused feel like they don’t have anyone to turn to for help because they’ve been isolated from their family and friends. They may stay because they hope it will get better, but chances are it won’t.”