The domestic violence case load has risen by 360 percent for Birmingham's oldest social service agency. In one year, Jefferson County Family Court went from referring 77 cases involving minors to 277.
Gateway's CEO believes it's because more people are learning the signs of domestic violence and losing the fear to report cases.
Fortunately, the county commission is expected to approve grant money to help the agency.
For many teens, this is the gateway to a new life.
"What this provides to the people who come out here is a structure they can be safe in," said Jim Loop, Gateway's President and CEO.
Gateway is a temporary home for roughly 40 teenagers at a time who've come from what Loop calls "traumatic situations." They are victims of domestic abuse who are now experiencing problems ranging from violence to depression to ADD.
Loop says more teens are now calling the center "home" because of domestic violence awareness.
"Ithink some of the stigma is not as great for reporting domestic violence and people are more forthcoming," he said.
The goal is to keep families together safely, so house visits are conducted before removing the teens and returning them.
David Gillock is often one of the first people to enter those houses.
"I think we should open the door and help people with the problems they do have and do experience," said Gillock, director of Gateway's Family Outcome Center Unification Service, Gillock knows domestic violence is preventable and the cycle can be broken. His teamis successful more than 90 percent of the time in bringing the families back together without repeat offenses.
"It's awesome to see a family that's been hurt to rise above and remain together safely," he said. The agency has been awarded a 75 thousand dollar grant to continue its work.
The commission is expected to approve it Tuesday
Posted on Fri, March 4, 2011