Lighthouse offers women safe haven

Published 12:14 pm Monday, October 22, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Domestic violence is a serious issue, even in Alabama.
In 2006 the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center had more than 28,000 domestic violence simple and aggravated assaults reported to them by law enforcement. Fortunately, those who are abused have places they can go before it is too late to get out of a tough situation.
The Lighthouse in Robertsdale has taken over the Escambia County district for domestic violence issues. According to the Lighthouse development and communications director Christine Armstrong, those with domestic violence crises or those who have been raped can call the 24-hour hotline and can receive immediate attention.
"We have counseling for both individuals and groups," Armstrong said. "People start with the 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-543-5063 or 251-947-6008. They can call the 24-hour crisis line if they need shelter. If they are in danger and need somewhere to go, we can get them here. Or, we can give them information."
Armstrong said the Lighthouse is a safe haven for those who need assistance.
"Our shelter is high level security," she said. "It has a playroom and a playground for children. It offers a lot of direct services, case management. It can help women sort other options and set goals and get a plan together."
According to Armstrong, one of the most important facts about the Lighthouse is planning.
"One of the most important things we do is safety planning," she said. "When someone is in a domestic violence situation, there are always signs before that that people may not be aware of. When investigators are looking at a crime, they can see these signs. Even though sometimes people kill people and don't show these signs, most of the times they really are there. It is important for people to know what these signs are and take extra precaution to increase their safety, especially when they are trying to leave."
There are many signs that a person may be a danger to your life including:
There are many signs that people may become a threat to you. Be aware of the warning signs and get away if things become rough at home.
The Lighthouse can help in many ways. There is crisis counseling where help is available 24 hours a day, every day, to those who have been victimized by domestic violence. There is temporary shelter for those who need a non-violent lifestyle. Women can bring their children to the shelter if their lives are threatened at home. Court advocates can go with victims to criminal court as support. Group counseling is offered to those who survive domestic violence. There is a children's educational group, where children ages 5-13 are taught about personal safety.
The Lighthouse also serves as a rape crisis center. The 24-hour crisis hotline may be called if you or someone you know has been raped. This portion of the Lighthouse services are known as the Sexual Assault Program. It offers counseling in both Atmore and Brewton upon request. Appointments can be made with Joanne Sheils at 1-800-543-5068 during regular business hours.
Armstrong said those who are interested in sending donations to the Lighthouse to send them to P.O. Box 531, Robertsdale, Alabama 36467.
"We always need donations," she said. "We accept household items, non-perishable food items, especially kid snacks and women's toiletries. We also accept new toys for babies through teens."
Because the Lighthouse is new to the Escambia County area, they need volunteers in the area.
"We would love for people to get involved as volunteers and to help develop a fundraiser for the area," Armstrong said. "We'll be doing different stuff from time to time. We would like to become more high profile. It takes a long time to realize that the service is available, but we'd like to have volunteers there."
For more information on the Lighthouse, visit

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