Stopping domestic violence: How to stop it before it starts

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.(WIAT) — Tragedy struck Wednesday night as a mother was killed and four children were injured. The number of people who have died as a result of domestic violence incidents in our area is growing and now children are being physically harmed.

There are resources to help domestic violence victims. Services include the Birmingham PD and Jefferson County Sheriff Office Domestic Violence units, Pathways, and the YWCA.

Last year the YWCA assisted more that 2,700 people.

“From counseling to support groups, to a crisis hotline, shelter, legal and court advocacy to assist victims with maintaining to protection orders. There is counseling for families and help them break away from an abusive relationship,” said the YWCA assistant director of Domestic Violence Services.

Sunny Slaughter is a domestic violence expert and a survivor herself. She trains law enforcement on how to respond to domestic violence cases. Slaughter said victims need to seek help.

“Mothers and fathers have died we have had domestic violence homicide-suicides. We can no longer keep doing this and when I say we I am talking about the community has to respond, and people have to seek out the services that are available,” said Slaughter.

Rachel Dearing is the executive director of One Place – Metro Alabama Family Justice Center, a collaboration between the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, City of Birmingham, Birmingham Police Department, YWCA and Crisis Center. Its goal is to provide all services to help victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse under one roof.

Dearing appeared Thursday afternoon before the Zoning Board of Adjustments at their regularly scheduled meeting.

She presented her request for parking spaces, for the proposed building that will soon house the Family Justice Center, which is currently operating out of the District Attorney’s office.

In the wake of Wednesday night’s tragedy, the ZBA moved Dearing’s request to the top of their agenda Thursday. Birmingham Mayor William Bell and Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls were at the zoning meeting to show their support.

“The timing of this particular homicide in Birmingham — extremely ironic,” Falls said. “Because we’ve been pushing for the creation of a Family Justice Center now for at least a year and a half.”

The ZBA approved Dearing’s request, and the audience applauded.

“Today I’m angry, because this is the 12th domestic violence homicide that we’ve had in our city this year,” Dearing said. “I’m angry because it took another death to bring us to this place today. I’m angry because I knew this person and I know her family and I know her personally, and it’s another life lost that didn’t have to be.”

“We’re going to work to support, however we can, these organizations,” Bell said.

Bell called for a summit, during which different organizations can discuss guidelines and methods to help victims. He did not have a specific date or time for the summit, but said he wanted to have it as soon as possible.

Dearing said she hopes that the new One Place Family Justice Center will be open this summer.

More information on the center can be found at

CBS42 held a discussion with Dr. Josh Klapow, Sunny Slaughter, and more of those from the front line:

Some more resources if you are a victim of domestic violence and need help are listed below:

2nd Chance:

Counties Served: Etowah, Cleburne, Calhoun, Talladega

(256) 236-7233 Crisis Line / (256) 236-7381 Office


Counties Served: Walker

(205) 387-1157 Crisis Line/Office

Family Sunshine Center:

Counties Served: Chilton, Autauga, Elmore, Montgomery, Lowndes, Butler, Crenshaw

(334) 263-0218 Crisis Line / (334) 206-2100 Office

Harbor Haus/Victim Services of Cullman

Counties Served: Cullman

(256) 734-6100 Crisis Line / (256) 775-2600 Office

Kelley’s Rainbow:

Counties Served: Marshall, DeKalb, Cherokee

(256) 891-0019 Crisis Line / (256) 891-9864 Office

SABRA Sanctuary:

Counties Served: Perry, Dallas, Wilcox, Sumter, Marengo, Greene

(334) 874-8711 Crisis Line / (334) 877-4645 Office

SafeHouse of Shelby County:

Counties Served: Shelby, Clay, Coosa

(205) 669-7233 Crisis Line / (205) 669-1877 Office


Counties Served: Lauderdale, Colbert, Lawrence, Winston, Marion, Franklin

(256) 767-6210 Crisis Line / (256) 767-3076 Office

Turning Point:

Counties Served: Lamar, Fayette, Pickens, Tuscaloosa, Bibb, Hale

(205) 758-0808 Crisis Line/Office

YWCA Domestic Violence Services:

Counties Served: Blount, St. Clair, Jefferson

(205) 322-4878 Crisis Line / (205) 322-9922 Office

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