Joleen Heckman barely had time to turn her computer on before the calls began on this Thursday morning. A client needed support navigating the court system. This woman’s boyfriend was arrested for domestic violence, but set for release. Joleen and her team at Crisis Services of North Alabama made sure their client had the facts, the transportation, and anything else she needed to go to court to keep her abuser in lock-up.
Heckman and her coworkers, along with a network of volunteers, work around the clock to make sure victims have everything they need during some of the worst moments of their lives. She says being co-located at the National Children’s Advocacy Center not only provides a safe environment for her clients and their children, it also keeps her connected with investigators and prosecutors handling the criminal case against the abusers. “Instead of having to call or email, we just walk down the hall to each other,” says Heckman. Moments later, a Huntsville Police Investigator poked his head into Heckman’s office. He needed to chat with her when the interview finished.
The partnership between the NCAC and Crisis Services of North Alabama gives children a safe place to tell their version of events. “Children call 911 for the majority of domestic violence related calls. In some cases this leads to a forensic interview that can be used in court,” says Heckman, “It also provides the parent with some comfort. Knowing there is support for their child makes it easier for them to leave an abusive situation.”
Crisis Services of North Alabama provides support groups for adults and children, shelter services, victim advocacy, a suicide hotline, forensic medical exams, and even a DV Responder Program. “Specially trained volunteers ride along with patrol officers. They are there to give comfort to the victim while the officer secures the scene and collects the facts,” explains Heckman. While these volunteers can’t ride along to every domestic violence call, they review cases and follow up with victims.
Crisis Services of North Alabama needs volunteers. You can also help by checking out their needs list and providing victims in our community items like paper products, cleaning products, health care items, blankets and towels.
Heckman’s morning picked back up right where it left off before this interview; text messages from team members, notices about hearings, and calls to and from victims. The cycle appears to be never ending, but the support from the volunteers and staff at Crisis Services of North Alabama give these victims, these survivors, the power and resources to live without fear.