Year-end reports: Victim Services achieves goal of increased local services in 2021

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Puppy Bella, seen in this 2019 image, is now a support dog working in the VSC shelter. (Photo courtesy of Victim Services of Cullman, Inc.)

CULLMAN, Ala. – In 2021, Victim Services of Cullman Inc. celebrated its 30th year of service to victims of crime, especially domestic violence, in Cullman County. For Director Carol Horstman, it has been a year of goals achieved.

“This has been an exciting year of expansion for Victim Services as we finally completed a goal that we have been working towards for years – the opening of a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (or SANE) Clinic in Cullman County for adult survivors of sexual assault,” said Horstman. “Up until now, adult survivors of sexual assault have been forced to travel to Birmingham or Huntsville for a ‘rape kit’ to document, gather, and preserve evidence while also having their immediate medical needs attended to. Local victims of sexual assault can now receive the most up-to-date, comprehensive care – medical exams, victim advocacy and law enforcement reporting – all in one location, right here in their own community. Victim Services works closely with local law enforcement and CRMC to ensure coordination of services with the goal of decreasing any additional trauma to the victim.”

“We are grateful to Dr. Adam Harrison for volunteering his time and expertise to act as our SANE Medical Director and to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation and People’s Bank for helping fund the project.”

By the numbers

In 2021, Victim Services saw 1,218 women, men and children who received 5,194 services.

According to Horstman, “Services provided include crisis hotline response, emergency shelter, transitional residence and program, counseling, victim advocacy, victim accompaniment, SANE exams, assistance filing protection orders, Alabama Crime Victims Compensation application assistance, risk assessments, safety planning, support groups, life skills/empowerment classes, parenting classes, Domestic Violence Intervention Program – batterer’s intervention, children and teen emotional support services, children’s advocacy, interpreter services, referrals and assistance with transportation, employment, housing, education and benefits.”

A community effort

“We are grateful to United Way of Cullman County, the City of Cullman and Cullman County Commission for their continued support and partnership,” said Horstman. “The community-wide support we receive is amazing. Thank you to the individuals, churches, civic groups and businesses who support our mission to end family violence and promote peace by donating money and supplies.

“Thanks to our generous community, we were able to provide Christmas gifts for children of 51 current and former clients, as well as gifts and Christmas dinner for all the women and children in our two shelters.”

Get involved, get help

Victim Services provides domestic and sexual violence crisis response and recovery services for primary victims and their family members, no matter when the abuse occurred. Services are provided at no cost to victims. 

For more information, call 256-775-2600 (office) or 256-734-6100 to speak to an Advocate anytime, day or night.

RNs wanting more information on how to become a SANE can email SANE Clinical Director Heather Mahler at heather@victimservices.online.

To make a monetary donation, or to view wish lists for Victim Services’ shelters, visit https://www.victimservices.online/get-involved/shelter-wish-list.

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