South Carolina Department of Social Services
P O Box 1520 ? Columbia, SC 29202-1520
South Carolina Department of Social Services
P O Box 1520
Columbia, South Carolina 29202-1520
The South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) through its Battered Spouse Program has provided assistance for victims of domestic violence for eighteen years. The program provides support for crisis intervention and prevention services to victims of family violence, their children and abusers through a network of community based nonprofit service providers. The Department began funding domestic violence services in 1980 with one emergency shelter and a crisis intervention network. Mini grants were awarded to community based domestic violence task forces to host community forums on spouse abuse; install emergency crisis lines for victims; and to develop brochures and training materials on the subject. Gradually increased levels of funding has allowed the program expansion to include twenty providers throughout the state.
The types of providers vary from emergency shelters offering a variety of services to programs that offer specialized services for victims of incest. There are providers in rural as well as metropolitan areas. All providers are united in their dedication to ensuring the safety of victims and prevention of further incidents of violence.
This annual report delineates the significant events, accomplishments and data for State Fiscal Year 1997-98.
South Carolina Code of Laws offers two avenues of redress for victims of domestic violence.
The Protection from Domestic Abuse Act clarifies the authority of law enforcement officers and specifies the protection and assistance to be offered victims. The order assists victims by disallowing contact with the victim by the offender and allowing for the temporary removal of the offender from a shared residence
The Criminal Domestic Violence Act establishes domestic violence as a criminal act and lists fines and penalties for violators. The law defines domestic violence as a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine and a jail sentence of thirty or more days; allows for convictions to be suspended to probation based on offender participation in a therapeutic program; and, allows for warrantless arrest based upon a determination of probable cause. The Act states that "it is unlawful cause physical harm or injury to a person's own household member, offer or attempt to cause physical harm or injury to a person's own household member with apparent present ability under circumstances reasonably creating fear of imminent peril."
The South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) was designated by the Governor as the administering agency for the State Battered Spouse Appropriation and Family Violence Prevention and Services Act funds. The Department is responsible for strategic planning, policy development, and administration of the State's Family Violence Intervention Program. The goal of the Department regarding the Battered Spouse and Family Violence Prevention and Services Act Programs is to prevent and/or reduce the incidence of family violence and to ensure accessible emergency shelter and related assistance to those in need of services for the prevention of spouse abuse and family violence. The Department reserves the right to prescribe funding criteria for all service providers receiving awards from the Battered Spouse and Family Violence Prevention and Services Act appropriations.
The state of South Carolina has been actively involved in domestic violence prevention for seventeen years, when the legislature first appropriated funds for the development of a program of services for the prevention of spouse abuse. Thereafter, the legislature has reappropriated funds for the provision of services to victims of domestic violence at gradually expanded levels.
Initially, DSS provided funding for additional domestic violence intervention agencies as the state appropriation increased. By 1988, eight emergency shelters, one crisis intervention center, and two offender intervention services were funded by a combined state and federal appropriation of over $800,000.00. However, most services were concentrated in the larger towns and cities, often leaving rural residents without access to services.
As public awareness and demand for family violence intervention services increased, the Department of Social Services realized that the practice of funding emergency shelters and/or crisis intervention agencies as they became operational was inadequate to meet the needs of the state victim population. The rate of denial of emergency shelter services due to lack of space consistently amounted to fifty percent of those actually receiving shelter.
To remedy the situation, DSS implemented a Service Expansion Plan in 1988 to maximize the service capabilities of provider agencies and to ensure the availability of accessible emergency shelters and related assistance to victims. A system of regional emergency shelter services was instituted. All emergency shelter services are required to provide:
a twenty-four hour crisis line;
client needs assessment;
information and referral;
temporary emergency shelter;
individual and group counseling;
assistance with obtaining housing and employment;
locally based services in each county of the assigned service region;
and, promote community awareness of domestic violence issues.
In the ensuing years, increased funding and public awareness of the issues has aided expansion and diversification of services throughout the state. The impact was immediate. The rate of denial of emergency shelter admission due to lack of space decreased by forty percent.
Presently, the Department funds thirteen emergency shelters, five counseling services for abusers, and one crisis intervention program for victims of incest.
The DSS Family Violence Intervention Program receives funding from two sources: the state appropriation and Family Violence Prevention and Services Act Funds. The state legislature re-appropriates funds for the Battered Spouse Program each fiscal year. These state funds are governed by a proviso that limits expenditures to services for domestic violence victims and their children. Family Violence funds are reallocated annually. The amount each state receives is based on a ration of the state's population to the total appropriation. The disbursement of Family Violence moneys is governed by regulations delineated by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
Over the past five years, although the state appropriation has remained static, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act appropriation has increased on a steady basis to comprise thirty-eight percent of the total program budget in fiscal year 1997-98. The total program budget was $1,669,512, of which $650, 741 were federal moneys. All state dollars were allocated to thirteen emergency shelters for operational expenses. Each agency was awarded a base operational expense of $65,000.00 plus a proportion of the remaining appropriation based on a ratio of the total population of its service area to that of the state.
The maximum amount awarded to Family Violence Prevention and Services grant recipients is based on the total state appropriation. Sixty-eight percent of the Family Violence allocation was awarded to twelve emergency shelter programs, seven percent to two agencies providing related assistance, and twenty percent to five agencies providing counseling services to offenders.
ELIGIBILITY AND SERVICE INFORMATION
Recipients of these services must be victims of family violence, their children, or offenders. Family violence is defined as actual or potential physical violence between persons who are related by blood or marriage or otherwise legally related or lawfully residing together.
Those in need are eligible to receive services without regard to income, national origin, or gender. Emergency shelters may develop house rules that prohibit residence by individuals who exhibit inappropriate or dangerous behavior.
DSS contracts with nonprofit community based agencies to:
provide or arrange emergency shelter care and/or appropriate services for victims of family violence, their children, and other relevant family members,
promote public awareness and education about family violence in their local communities,
coordinate services with other crisis intervention, shelter, and/or offender programs when, or if, necessary,
collaborate to the extent possible with local law enforcement, solicitor, and judiciary in the prosecution of offender.
Fees for emergency shelter services may be charged by contractors with prior approval from DSS. However, services may not be denied to any client due to non payment.
All providers are expected to abide by the terms and specifications outlined in their contracts with DSS. The programmatic activities of funded agencies are regularly monitored for contract compliance. Statistical reports of client services are submitted to DSS on a monthly basis.
DSS funds a regional network of thirteen emergency shelter programs. The primary program sites are located in the traditional marketplace center for each region. Several programs have established satellite locations that offer advocacy and counseling services within their service areas.
Region Emergency Shelter Counties Served I Safe Harbor Greenville, Anderson, Oconee,and Pickens II Laurens County Safe Home Abbeville, Laurens, and Saluda III Cumbee Center Aiken, Allendale and Barnwell IV Citizens Opposed to Domestic Abuse Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper V My Sister's House Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester VI Sistercare Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Newberry, and Richland VII Tri-County Sisterhelp Chester, Lancaster, and York VIII YWCA of the Upper Lowlands Clarendon, Lee, and Sumter IX Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Marion, Marlboro, and Williamsburg X Citizens Against Spouse Abuse Georgetown and Horry XI Spartanburg Safe Home-Rape Crisis Network Cherokee, Spartanburg, and Union XII Citizens Against Sexual Assault/Family Systems Bamberg, Calhoun, and Orangeburg XIII Meg's House Edgefield, Greenwood, and McCormick
In addition, family violence intervention services that include psycho-educational counseling services for offenders and support services for victims exist throughout the state.
Agency Counties Served Carolina Counseling Spartanburg CASA/Family Systems Bamberg, Calhoun, Orangeburg Compass of Carolina Greenville Family Counseling Anderson Family Services Charleston Family Service Center Richland Men's Resource Center Richland, Lexington, York Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Marion, Marlboro, and Williamsburg YWCA of the Upper Lowlands Clarendon, Lee, and Sumter
Conference on Family Violence Prevention
The Sixth Conference on Family Violence Prevention, Rebuilding Family Foundations, was attended by over 150 persons. The DSS sponsored conference attracted law enforcement, counselors, social service providers, and educators from all over the state. The conference focused on issues related to all family members impacted by violence, offered twenty workshops. Victims, local and internationally known experts presented on a variety of topics.
A total of nine thousand six hundred ninety-three (9,693) victims received services. Of that number, six thousand seventy-five (6,075) were female and three thousand eight hundred seven (3,807 were males, one hundred twenty-two (122) were aged sixty-five or over, five thousand seven hundred fifty-seven (5,750) were between age eighteen and sixty-five, and three thousand eight hundred fourteen (3,814) were age seventeen and below.
A total of four thousand one hundred ninety-nine (4,199) persons received emergency shelter during the grant period. Of that number, two thousand fifty-two (2,052) were women; two thousand one hundred forty-six (2,146) were children; and, sixty-one (61) were men. Victims spent a total of fifty-two thousand two hundred thirty-seven (52,237) bed nights in emergency shelters. The average length of stay was eighteen days. Three hundred twenty-five ( 325) persons were denied shelter due to lack of space. Six hundred sixty-seven (667) persons were referred to other emergency or homeless shelters.
A total of seven thousand ten (7,010) Caucasians, four thousand nine hundred seventeen (4,917) African Americans, one hundred fifty-four (154) Hispanics, twenty-one (21) Asians, nine Native Americans and one hundred fifty-five (155) other individuals received emergency shelter and related services.
Other services rendered included eighteen thousand five hundred eighty (18,580) hours of individual counseling, twenty-three thousand nine hundred thirty-six (23,936) hours of group counseling, twenty thousand nine hundred eleven (20,911) crisis calls were answered, eleven thousand five hundred seventy-five (11,575) calls for information and referral were answered. A total of two thousand five hundred seventy-two (2,572) batterers received psycho-educational group counseling. A total of four thousand four hundred seventy-two (4,472) persons received court advocacy; one thousand six hundred fifty-six (1,656) persons received assistance with completing and filing Orders of Protection; and, two thousand three hundred eighty-one (2,381) persons received assistance with applications for assistance or negotiating with social service agencies. A total of one thousand five hundred forty-three (1,543) trips were taken by staff or volunteers transporting victims. Agencies presented a total of one thousand four hundred eighty-six (1,480) media activities. The activities included television interviews, radio interviews, newspaper advertisements, booths at local festivities, and speeches for local religious, community and civic organizations.
Agencies reported having a total of one thousand four hundred thirty-nine (1,439) volunteers, who provided ninety-six thousand six hundred thirty (96,630) hours of service.
One thousand five hundred sixty-three (1,563) women reported physical abuse, two thousand eight hundred twenty-five (2,825) reported psychological abuse, and eight hundred ninety-one (891) reported sexual abuse. Three hundred eighty-nine (389) children were physically abused, eight hundred seventy-eight (878) were psychologically abused, and one hundred thirty-six (136) were sexually abused.
Four hundred seventy-four (474) victims and one hundred sixty-eight (68) batterers reported alcohol abuse. Five hundred nineteen (519) victims and sixty-nine (69) batterers reported involvement with drugs. Two hundred seventeen victims (217) and seventy-one (71) batterers reported alcohol and drug abuse.
Five hundred eighty-one (581) victims and one hundred ninety-four (194) batterers reported being abused as children. Two thousand six hundred sixty (2,660) victims and two hundred seven (207) batterers reported witnessing abuse as children. Four hundred twenty-five (425) victims and nineteen batterers received emergency medical attention. Law enforcement intervened with three thousand twenty-nine (3,029) victims and seven hundred sixty-six (766) batterers.
Three hundred one (301) adults exiting emergency shelters returned to their previous living situation. Three hundred seventy-one (371) made new living arrangements. The disposition of three hundred one (301) victims is unknown. Two thousand three hundred twenty-one (2,321) cases of domestic violence were adjudicated resulting in one thousand two hundred eight (1,208) criminal convictions and one thousand one hundred thirteen civil (1,1013) resolutions.
FUNDED SERVICE PROVIDERS FOR FISCAL YEAR 1997
AGENCY COUNTIES SERVED TELEPHONE NUMBERS Carolina Counseling Spartanburg (864)583-5802 CASA/Family Systems Bamberg, Calhoun, and Orangeburg (803)534-2272 Citizens Against Spouse Abuse Georgetown and Horry (843)626-7595 Citizens Opposed to Domestic Abuse Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper (843)770-1082 Compass of Carolina Greenville (864)467-3434 Cumbee Center Allendale, Aiken, and Barnwell (803)649-0480 Family Services of Charleston Charleston (843)745-1666 Family Service Center of Columbia Richland (803)733-5450 Family Counseling Center of Anderson Anderson (864)225-6266 Laurens County Safe Home Abbeville, Laurens, and Saluda (864)682-7270 Meg's House Edgefield, Greenwood, and McCormick (864)227-1890 Men's Resource Center Richland, Lexington, and York (803)256-0468 My Sister's House Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester (843)747-4067 Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Marlboro, Marion, and Williamsburg (843)669-4694 Safe Home-Rape Crisis Coalition Cherokee, Spartanburg, and Union (864)583-9803 Safe Harbor Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, and Pickens (864)4671177 Sexual Trauma Center Greenwood and Laurens (864)227-1623 Sistercare Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Newberry, and Richland (803)926-0505 Tri-County Sisterhelp Chester, Lancaster, and York (803)329-3336 YWCA of the Upper Lowlands Clarendon, Lee, and Sumter (803)773-7158
A VICTIM'S EXPERIENCE
The purpose of this life story is to hopefully clear up some of the misconceptions that cause a lot of frustration and maybe give you some insight into the woman's side of abuse.
Before I tell you about my experiences, let me tell you what an abuser uses to gain control. First he makes you fear him and fear leaving him. Then he isolates you; convinces you that you are to blame and begins the brainwashing. He totally demoralizes you. He rips apart your confidence and self worth. Over time he breaks your will. If he has enough time he may finally kill you.
For twelve years I was beaten, held at gun point, tied up and raped. My first experience with anger began three months after we were married. All of a sudden during an argument, he pulls a gun out, holds it to my head and forces me to have sex. Of course I left as soon as I could and called the police. When he got out of jail the next day, I experienced my first punishment beating for turning him in. He told me how sorry he was, that he would never touch me again. So began the fear, brainwashing and the cycle of violence.
This is where I started believing that my actions caused his anger and if I was a better wife he would stop hitting me. I believed that I could change him if I loved him enough. It wasn't long into our marriage that my family grew tired of moving me in and out. They quit asking what happened to my eye or leg or arm. My friends were scared to let me stay with them because they were afraid of what he might do to them.
I had a black eye almost constantly for a year straight. I was kicked out of the house in below freezing temperatures with snow on the ground with or without clothing many times. Sadly, I would stand there and beg to be let back in knowing I was going to get hit again because I had no where else to go.
My husband had been in and our of jail and was facing jail time again. He then kidnapped our son and came to South Carolina. Naturally, I followed in hopes of retrieving our son and returning back home. When I found him and our son, he told me that he had changed and had become religious, and of course I believed him. Soon things were back to normal only I was pregnant again and we were 900 miles from home. Time passed and things progressively got worse. He didn't grow up like I had hoped. I still wasn't loving him enough.
This man who claimed he loved me more than anything, spent hours at a time beating me. He has beaten me with a sword leaving 3x8 inch bruised on my legs, had guns pointed and shot off over my head, had enough hair pulled out of my head to make 10 wigs, been hog tied and tortured. One time he pushed into the bathtub and I hit my kidney. I thought I was going to die on the spot. As soon as I could catch my breath, he finished the beating and told me to get into the bedroom and strip because he was ready for sex. He would also time up and go out to play with the children in the next room telling me that when he came back I would pay for forcing him to tie me up. If I cried, he would come back and gag me. I could hear him in the living room watching cartoons with the kids and laughing.
He tied me up once and sat me on the edge of the be and told me I was going to tell him who I was sleeping with or he would electrocute me. He then proceeded to cut off the cord form a heater and bare the wires and pretend to plug it in and would then touch the wires to my hands. Since I had always been faithful, this went on for a while. For our last anniversary together I got sodomized and told " now get our of my room you whore."(This was because I would not pick up another woman for him so that he could have a threesome) The next day he told me that I owed him an apology.
It did not matter how hard I tried or what I did, I could not make this man happy. I at times figured he would just grow tired of me and one day leave for good. Looking back I see why he didn't. He had it made--come and go as he pleased, a virtual slave to wait on him and a punching bag for his favorite hobby.
Because of my strong Christian beliefs, I felt it was my duty as a wife and mother to do all I could to keep my family together. As far as the children were concerned, I lived in my fantasy world where they were not affected by any of this at all. This of course if far from the truth.
By the time I left him for the final time our relationship had deteriorated to the point that one of us was going to die soon. He would kill me in a fit of anger or I would kill him out of self defense or just because I had plain lost it. Yes, I thought about killing him. I had a knife between my mattresses for just that purpose. I wanted to hurt him and make him beg like he did me. But I couldn't do it, I was not the same type of person he was, so I left.
I am sure by now many of you are thinking that I was nuts for staying so long. Why didn't she just leave? She had to know that there was help out there. Well, I have given reasons like Christian beliefs and family values, two very compelling reasons to hold your family together. Another is a very obvious one......you love this man. How can a woman love a man that beats her you ask? Well, at first he appeared loving, caring and protective, and all the things you want a man to be. Once they have your love and trust, they change. With this love comes hope, and the hope that things will go back to the way they were.
Then you have the fear of trying to make it on your own. The fear he will find you and kill you. The fear that your children will hate you for taking their dad away. The fear of being a failure. Just leaving.....is not that easy.
All of these things go through a woman's mind when an officer responds to a domestic violence call. The woman is being beaten, choked, hair pulled, etc. for at least as long as it takes you to get there and probably longer. You knock on the door and she feels relief....."Thank God someone is here to help me." The minute you walk in the door and ask what is going on, immediate fear sets in. If she tells what has happened and he goes to jail, he is definitely getting out in the morning (maybe sooner) and she know that HE WILL BE BACK. So a quick decision has to be made. Does she go for the good night's sleep tonight and a beating tomorrow, or go ahead and finish the beating tonight. More likely, the beating tonight will be far less intense than the one that in his mind is deserved for sending him to jail. So now the panic sets in.
This is why when officers show up at a domestic abuse situation things appear to be the exact opposite of what they are. By the time they showed up I would feel relief, and a sense of safety and all the anger would start to well up. Now that someone was present that would not hit me, all of the emotions would come pouring out at once, and I would look like the one that was out of control. It is virtually impossible to make a sensible decision when you are in that state of mind.
Domestic violence situations are notoriously dangerous situations for police officers to walk in on. What you may not realize is that the same danger existed every time I walked through the door. Just like the police experience, I didn't know what was going to happen.
My perpetrator has since been able to elude the police and jail time for numerous other charges. We were not even able to contact him to inform him of the tragic death of our daughter. He still sends threatening letters, I still have nightmares and look over may shoulder to make sure no one is following me home. I still see the effects of this on my children. Children that grow up in abusive homes grow up to be abusive. How can they not? They are taught that this is a normal way of life. They are taught that getting hit means "I love you."
I want you t know that there are happy endings. After numerous trips to shelters, I was able to gain the assistance needed to start over. But many years later, I remarried a man that truly loves me, and is a father to the children. I am as happy now as I was miserable then.
In closing I would like to mention to judges, police officers, law makers, social workers, and counselors.....
I know that you must get frustrated watching the cycle and trying to help, and that you are talking from the heart to deaf ears. One thing that I have learned from helping other victims, is that they must be ready. They must reach a point where they have tried everything. They must know in their hearts that they have no other options. Because they are the ones who sacrifice their dreams, give up everything, break up the family, and risk their lives by leaving. Don't think of the repeat visits to the same families as more hopeless each time. Think of it as another reason for the victim to consider, and another pebble on the scale when weighing the decision.
And to the officers....when that call comes over the radio for a domestic dispute, please don't think to yourselves "Here we go again, time to break up a lovers quarrel." Think instead, "Someone is in danger and here is my chance to save a life."
**This story is the actual story of a survivor aided by an emergency shelter program funded by the Department of Social Services
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