For six years, South Carolina has been at or near the top of a grim list — the ranking of states with the highest number of women killed by men in domestic violence situations.
In 2017, the state was fifth in the nation, according to a study released by the Violence Policy Center. Statistics show the rate of women dying here from domestic violence is 1.83 per 100,000, which translates to 46 homicides in 2015.
The South Carolina Council of Catholic Women is doing what they can to help bring those numbers down.
Each year, members of the organization collect money for a special project during their annual convention, and this year they raised $6,972 to be divided equally among domestic violence organizations in the group’s six active deaneries.
Funds went to Hopeful Horizons in Beaufort (Beaufort Deanery), My Sister’s House, Inc. in North Charleston (Charleston Deanery), Sistercare, Inc. of Columbia (Columbia Deanery), Safe Harbor in Greenville (Greenville Deanery), Family Justice Center of Georgetown and Horry Counties in Georgetown (Myrtle Beach Deanery), and Safe Passage, Inc., in Rock Hill (Rock Hill Deanery).
Members decided to focus on domestic violence as a concern because it is such a huge problem statewide, said Chris Miller Segars, SCCCW president.
SCCCW affiliates already help several of the organizations on an ongoing basis.
Parishes in the Charleston Deanery donated supplies to My Sister’s House as a deanery-wide project in 2017, and parishes in the Myrtle Beach Deanery raise funds and collect supplies for the Family Justice Center in Georgetown.
Assistance from parishes and faith-based groups is vital, according to Vicki Bourus, executive director of the Family Justice Center. The organization started in Georgetown in 2009 and expanded its services to Horry County in 2012.
Bourus said the justice center serves men, women and children affected by domestic violence, offering everything from counseling and emergency shelter to help with medical bills, rent, and basic supplies such as bedding and paper products.
“We’re seeing a surge in the need for our services,” she said. “In 2012, this organization served about 300 people, and in 2017 we assisted close to 1,000.”
As of April 30, Family Justice Center had already assisted 450 clients. Bourus said the numbers are up partly because of more awareness about domestic violence.
“This is a problem that has always been there behind closed doors,” she said. “It happens to people no matter where they live or how much money they make. Many people affected by it don’t realize that the situation they are in is only going to get worse. Seeking help is the best thing they can do.”
See below for a list of domestic violence support organizations:
Greenville: Safe Harbor, 864-467-1177 or www.safeharborsc.org
Rock Hill: Safe Passage, Inc., 803-329-3336 or http://safepassagesc.org
Columbia: Sistercare, Inc., 803-765-9428 or www.sistercare.org
Georgetown: Family Justice Center of Georgetown and Horry Counties, 843-546-3926 or www.fjcgtownhorry.org
North Charleston: My Sister’s House, Inc., crisis line 843-744-3242 or www.mysistershouse.org
Beaufort: Hopeful Horizons, 843-524-2256 or www.hopefulhorizons.org