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Here’s one way to move beyond statistics on SC domestic violence

Why this flower is a fitting symbol for survivors of sexual assault and violence, and those who help

Shauw Chin Capps, with Hopeful Horizons, talks about why they chose the lily for their annual flower release Saturday at the Port Royal Sound Maritime Center in Okatie.
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Shauw Chin Capps, with Hopeful Horizons, talks about why they chose the lily for their annual flower release Saturday at the Port Royal Sound Maritime Center in Okatie.

Domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking impact everyone in the Lowcountry in some way.

The statistics are staggering — South Carolina ranks sixth in the nation for the rate of women murdered by men and has the sixth highest percentage of women reporting sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States.

Nationally, one in four women and one in 10 men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner and reported some form of intimate partner violence-related impact.

But this violence is more than statistics — it fills our emergency rooms and morgues, keeps employees from being able to work, terrorizes children and interferes with their ability to learn. It drives up health care costs, contributes to crime and causes lasting harm to families and communities.

In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was a giant step forward for our nation. Its passage meant that our federal government finally acknowledged that domestic and sexual violence cause tremendous harm and it invested resources to improve the nation’s response to these crimes.

Since then, VAWA has been reauthorized three times — in 2000, 2005 and 2013; each reauthorization made vital improvements to previous law. Millions of families are better off as a result.

It’s time to do more to stop violence and to protect our communities.

That means investing in prevention.

That means holding perpetrators accountable rather than punishing victims and it means improving the enforcement of protective orders.

That means ensuring victims and survivors have safe housing, access to justice and economic stability.

That means reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act with modest but meaningful improvements that enhance our nation’s response to these heinous crimes.

That means moving forward — never backward and never remaining static.

VAWA funds support Hopeful Horizons’ mission to protect, treat and prevent by assisting victims right here in our community. Thanks in part to funding from VAWA, Hopeful Horizons is able to: provide legal services like assisting victims to obtain orders of protection; offer crisis response and counseling to victims; and provide primary prevention programs, community education and professional training — all free of charge.

The current VAWA authorization expires on Sept. 30.

We applaud the passage of VAWA 2019/HR 1585 and Congressmen James Clyburn and Joe Cunningham’s votes in its favor.

Now, the Senate must make it a priority to reauthorize VAWA with modest enhancements — essential legislation that funds victim services, prevention programs and other critically needed community services.

Stopping domestic and sexual violence and protecting victims must be a priority in South Carolina.

Kristin Dubrowski is CEO, and Andre Nougaret is board president of Hopeful Horizons.
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