Groups work to combat domestic violence cases in North Alabama

"We share our stories so that others can be free to share their stories."

Posted: Oct 15, 2021 8:00 PM
Updated: Oct 19, 2021 10:44 AM

Michelle McLeod and Jakita White work with other women to share resources and give the helping hand that they wish they once had. 

Their stories are different, but they're both domestic abuse survivors. 

"We share our stories so that others can be free to share their stories," said McLeod, survivor and director of Love Beyond. 

White and McLeod wear a smile now, but it wasn't always that way.

"My thing was to move away and maybe the situation would leave, but it got worse actually when I got here to Huntsville," said White. 

"I am a U.S. Army veteran, so mine happened many years ago when I was in active duty in the military, by another soldier, when support systems were very minuscule," said McLeod.

Working together, they formed Love Beyond.

"That's how Love Beyond is there, to bridge that gap where individuals may not have that support," said McLeod. "We want to be there as best we can for them."

The U.S. Attorney's Office sees that gap and wants to be a part of that bridge. 

It's "something we call 'Operation Safe Families,'" said U.S. Attorney Prim Escalona, adding it's a way for their office to help combat domestic violence.

On Friday, the USAO for the Northern District of Alabama organized a training session for law enforcement. Escalona said it was a good time for law enforcement, prosecutors and service providers to come together, "because domestic violence is a problem that needs a comprehensive solution and a comprehensive approach."

White said training like this is necessary. 

"I think it comes down to educating law enforcement of what's serious, because what's serious to me may not be serious to them," White said. "I would like for each case to be looked at on a one-by-one basis."

Escalona said typically, domestic violence is charged at a state level, but when firearms are involved, the federal government can bring charges against domestic abusers. 

During Friday's training, additional resources were given for law enforcement to consider, "so that they can think outside of the box about ways of taking abusers out of the home and off the streets," Escalona said.

White and McLeod encourage victims of abuse to reach out for help. They said always look for warning signs and call the police if you're in need of help. 

Visit the Love Beyond website here for more resources. 

Love Beyond is holding a balloon release for domestic violence at 3 p.m. Saturday at 101 Legacy Cove Drive, Madison.

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