Domestic violence expert encourages victims to seek help before a situation escalates

One Place Family Justice Center sees spike in victims

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The death of Montgomery Police Department detective Tanisha Pughsley, 27, who was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend Monday has shed light on the broader issue of domestic violence, and why it is so important to get help before a situation escalates.

One Place Family Justice Center Executive Director, Marjorie Baker, said they are seeing a spike in the number of domestic violence victims they are serving in Montgomery.

Baker said they serve an average of 55 to 60 new victims every month, but in April and May of this year, that number declined largely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Baker said abusers used the pandemic as an excuse to trap their victims, preventing them from getting help.

“Because of the isolation we saw a dramatic drop,” Baker said. “We saw 33, at least 33, victims who could get away from their offender to come in and get help.”

That is nearly half of the victims they normally serve a month. But then in June, they started to see a spike.

“It went back up to about 45 domestic violence victims that we saw at our facility,” Baker said. “In July, we’re seeing anywhere from four to five victims per day so we’re seeing that this issue is increasing in our community and I don’t think it’s necessarily increasing, I think it’s victims now are finding that they can’t take it anymore, they are reaching out for help.”

Baker said anyone can be a victim, and they see a wide range of clients.

“Domestic violence, unfortunately, does not discriminate. It cuts across all socioeconomic lines, all races, all cultures, all ages.” Baker said. “Just because you are in a particular position, just because you may be at a certain status does not mean that you are immune from domestic violence. We see victims from the age of young teenagers where there is dating violence all the way up to elder abuse.”

Baker said leaving an abuser is not easy, and neither is reaching out for help, but if you don’t consider doing both you could be putting your life at risk.

“It takes a victim seven to nine times to leave before they leave for good,” Baker said. “Part of that is fear. Part of that is because they have hope that the relationship will get better.”

“[Leaving] is not an easy process, but it’s definitely a necessary process to save your life because typically things don’t change,” Baker said. “Domestic violence escalates. If it continues, it can escalate to a homicide.”

This is why there are resources like One Place Family Justice Center so victims have a safe place they can reach out to for help.

One Place Family Justice Center has continued to stay open during the pandemic. They are open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They serve victims of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual violence, child and elder abuse, and human trafficking.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence you can call the following phone numbers:

  • One Place Family Justice Center: 334-262-7378.
  • Alabama Domestic Violence 24-Hour Crisis Hotline: 1-800-650-6522
  • STAR 24-Hour Crisis Line: 334-213-1227

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