The first of its kind in South Carolina – the Justice Institute and Family Violence Center in the Lowcountry is already making a difference for victims in the Lowcountry.
500 people came through the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office Victims’ Center doors in the past year.
23 sexual assault cases were made in just the past two months.
But the numbers only tell part of the story of success..and help..
“This is giving them an outlet to be able to reach out before it gets too bad,” explains Michelle Fraser, Director of the Victims Services Center:
An outlet for victims to get help in a safe place where prosecutors and support agencies join forces. Allowing victims to get physical mental and legal help all in one place.
“When we are done here lets just go down the back hall and I can introduce you to all of the folks I told you about in the meeting rather than having to send them to different locations,” said April Winston, 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office Victim Advocate – Special Victims Unit.
“We have seen a huge increase in sexual assaults and i think its because we didn’t have the services we do now,” said Frasier.
Services which help take away the stigma of reporting the abuse, domestic violence or sexual assault.
CEO Krisin Dubrowski says Hopeful Horizons Advocacy center has done 150 forensic interviews at the Victims Center in the past year. More people getting more help..sooner.
“I think we’ve seen more people come forward when there is not always physical violence which is a positive thing because we look at domestic violence as a lot of different tactics an abuser uses to get and maintain control over their partner,” said Kristin Dubrowski, CEO, Hopeful Horizons.
“We want to do whatever we can to remove those barriers. So if someone feels like the do want to or need to leave a situation we can provide enough support to let them do that.”
Control of their situation and their own lives. That’s what many victims want. the belief they are not alone. That someone is listening and embracing their pain, their survival and eventually their victory over the violence.
“Victims want to be able to know they have control over the situation but they also want to make sure we are not judging them over the decisions they make,” explains Winston. “Having the community partners shows them they have validation, they have support for their decisions and this is not going to happen overnight.”
“This way its a little but easier for us to communicate with our community partners with that victim, actually present here. because we are giving them a warm body not giving them a business card,” said Fraser.
The specially trained SANE, sexual assault nurse provided to local hospitals is also helping ease some victims’ fears. As well as the knowledge that its not about making a case but getting a victim out of a bad situation and getting them help.
If you need help in the Lowcountry you can call the 14th Circuit Victims Services Center at (843) 790-6220
You can also call the Hopeful Horizons 24 Hour Crisis Hotline at 1-800-868-2632.