The faces of domestic violence are diverse; no two victims share the same set of circumstances.
For one Albertville woman, the alleged abuse by her live-in boyfriend ended in murder Christmas Eve.
Amanda Jean Hood died after her boyfriend shot her following what police characterize a domestic dispute.
Tevin Hampton fled the scene to the Mapco station on U.S. Highway 431 at Edmondson Street where he called police and told them where to find Hood’s body. He was taken into custody without incident and has been transported to the Marshall County Jail, charged with murder. He remains in the jail under a $100,000 bond.
Carla Wood, director of the Domestic Violence Crisis Services, said while Hood’s case may have been a one-time occurrence of domestic violence, other men and women struggle to break free from abusers.
“When we hear of a tragedy like this, it breaks our hearts,” Wood said. “We wonder, would this have happened if someone had reached out for help? Was there more that could have been done? Did the victim not know there was shelter available?”
But there is help, hope and shelter available in Marshall County.
“We have a 24-hour crisis line that victims can call to get shelter or any one of the many resources we offer,” Wood said.
“We have a shelter if they need a place to go. We have advocates that can work with them to get an order of protection. We have many services in place to help victims of domestic violence.”
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling behaviors one partner uses to gain power over the other. This could include physical violence, the threat to violence, emotional or mental abuse or even sexual abuse, according to dosomething.org.
Approximately 85 % of all reported domestic violence victims are women.
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women. Every 9 seconds, a woman in the United States is assaulted or beaten.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports in 60 to 80 % for all intimate partner homicides, not matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder.
According to the National Resource Center for Reaching Victims, common signs of domestic abuse and violence can include making the victim feel worthless. The victim is accused of cheating and being disloyal, and the accuser is extremely jealous.
The aggressor often intimidates the victim and threatens to hurt her or someone they love, or threatens to hurt themselves if they don’t get what they want.
Abusers also attempt to control the victim by isolating them from friends and family. They may also withhold money or the access to money. Constant following, calling or stalking are also signs of domestic violence.
How to get help
Wood said extricating from an abusive relationship can be challenging and difficult. Often times, a woman will balk at leaving the relationship for a myriad of reasons.
“Domestic violence is the only crime where you love the person that hurts you,” Wood said.
“They stay in the relationship because they love the other person, they don’t want to leave their home, they don’t want to upset the children. There are always financial reasons, emotional reasons.
“It is not easy for someone who is in an abusive situation to think of ways to get out. They may believe they can fix the other person. A lot of the time, the abuser will lash out, but then immediately apologize and pledge never to do it again. There is a lot of blame that gets put on the victim. But they stay because they think they can fix the person they love. That’s the biggest reason they stay. They believe if they do things differently, they can fix the abuser. We know that isn’t the case at all.”
The crisis line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 256-891-0019. Through the line, women are put in touch with a wide variety of services, including support groups.
“We will take women with children of all ages,” Wood said. “If it is man in need of services, we can handle that too, just not at our shelter. We have resources to relocate men away from the abusive situation. Someday, we hope that changes in our area, but for now, our shelter only serves women and children.”
If at all possible, victims are urged to work with crisis services to create a plan to leave the situation.
“If they call us and they are working on a plan to leave a bad situation, we can try to work with them to get them out safely,” she said. “They need to think about gathering important papers, such as Social Security cards, birth certificates and other documents and put them in a bag somewhere where they won’t draw attention. Maybe they can take the papers to a friend’s house.
“However, not every case allows for a woman to make plans. Maybe they have to flee in a crisis situation. If that happens, we can work with them to get them to a safe place and replace all their documents. We can secure a court order allowing them to collect their belongings or we can work to get new ones.
“The main thing is we want them out safely.”
Donations are a must
Domestic Violence Crisis Services relies on donations from the community to survive. Requested items range from food, to cleaning supplies, to personal hygiene items to clothes and gift cards to area businesses and gas stations.
“If someone comes to us with only what they have on, we will clothe them and feed them,” Wood said. “It doesn’t cost that person a single penny.
“Donations are always welcome in any form or fashion. We rely on our community and we have a great community that supports us.
“Donations are a very important part of keeping the shelter open.”
The shelter is located in a private location, undisclosed to protect the residents. Wood said police constantly patrol the area around the shelter and are willing to respond quickly to any and all calls.
“We are here when the victim is ready to leave,” Wood said. “We can’t force them out of a bad situation, but we want them to know we are here to talk. We want them to know when they are ready, we are here.
“We know a woman often times goes back up to nine times to be with the person that abused them before they leave for good or there is a tragedy. We understand that. We hope while they are here with us they will learn something. Maybe when the abuse happens again, there are bells and whistles that go off. We hope we have put a blueprint out there for them to help them navigate.
“They need to know they are not crazy or stupid for staying with the person they love.
“There are a lot of things that happen in a relationship, including manipulation. There are a lot of emotions involved. Your whole life is about to change. When you have to take your children out of a home and into the unknown, sometimes it is easier to stay than go into the unknown.
“We show them you can live free from violence.”