This morning, I spoke with a woman named “Sally” over our crisis line who was seeking counseling with Safe Harbor after experiencing over 7 years of abuse in a relationship. She spoke to me in the same hesitant tone that many victims seem to have when they first share their stories with us. As Sally shared stories of the frightening cycle of emotional and physical abuse that she was experiencing in her relationship, she was simultaneously expressing her own personal shame. Sally shared with me that she had never talked with anyone about the abuse she had experienced until this point. Despite the fact that Sally had loving relationships with her family and trusted friends, she had told no one about the time that her partner had stabbed her in her leg with a knife; about the time when he threw her down a flight of stairs; about the time that he assaulted her in the parking lot of her workplace and threatened to kill her. Sally shared with me that she was too ashamed, too embarrassed, too afraid to share her story with others, especially her friends and family. She told me that she felt so alone, feeling that she was the only person that she knew who had experienced domestic violence and thinking that no one else would ever understand her.
by Erin Bush, Clemson University Student
During Clemson University’s Homecoming celebration on October 8, Clemson students will be recognizing more than their school’s history; they’ll be raising awareness for domestic violence. The students’ efforts are part of a class project to support Safe Harbor, a domestic violence shelter and education outreach organization in Upstate S.C., and to promote Domestic Violence Awareness month during October.
The students’ projects during Homecoming events will include:
- Adding purple ribbons, the color of domestic violence awareness, to the Homecoming floats. The floats will be built and displayed on Clemson’s Bowman Field.
- Hosting a table on Bowman Field during the week leading up to the game – and several hours prior to kick-off – to provide educational materials from Safe Harbor and Clemson’s Redfern Health Center.
- Displaying a banner announcing Domestic Violence Awareness month on the float that will be showcased during the football game’s halftime show.
By Claire Bennett, Greenville Shelter Counselor
“Ivory” and her two young children, a girl age 8 and a boy age 3, came to our shelter from Columbia fleeing her abusive boyfriend. She and her boyfriend had been together for nearly two years and the abuse had been mainly verbal until the moment she decided to leave, at which time he punched and pushed her as she was trying to leave. His parents would not allow her to speak to the police to report the incident. She arrived at Safe Harbor as an overwhelmed and fragile mother.
Shortly after arriving in the shelter, Ivory’s daughter began to feel comfortable enough to disclose for the first time that she had been sexually abused by her father. We immediately began the referral process to the Julie Valentine Center for individual counseling. Because her family arrived during the summer, there were many fun activities for her children while she received counseling and attended groups. As the weeks passed, Ivory grew stronger and her children became happy, healthy children – blossoming from the fearful selves they previously had been.
Safe Harbor wants to extend a special thanks to Foothills Community Church in Seneca for choosing Safe Harbor to be part of their 2011 "Project Reach" initiative! In one short weekend, this a group of 20 volunteers from the church…
One out of every four women in the United States reports that they have been physically abused by a partner. Domestic Violence is the leading cause of injury to women, and it affects people of all ages, races, ethnicities, religions, educational backgrounds, and income levels.
Domestic Violence affects our world, our nation, and our local community. Here are the reported domestic violence statistics from SLED for our 4-County service area.
2010 Reported Criminal Events
(includes instances of aggravated assault, simple assault, & intimidation)
Anderson County – 1,169
Greenville County – 2,646
Oconee County – 341
Pickens County – 633
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Join us in Safe Harbor’s “31 Days of Domestic Violence Awareness” as we work to raise awareness about this issue in our local communities. Please plan to drop by the awareness events in your area:
On Friday morning, we had the privilege of meeting with Bobby Rettew to make plans for our first Safe Harbor video project. As a videographer and journalist, Bobby is helping us to realize that making a video about Safe Harbor is much more than listing information about our mission and services. It is about telling stories.
What does it look like to tell the stories Safe Harbor? We’re not used to telling our stories, but it’s not because we don’t have them. On the contrary, Safe Harbor is filled with stories…stories that remain forever in our hearts and memories…stories that may sometimes keep us awake at night…stories that often bring us to tears with sadness or laughter, sometimes both. Safe Harbor has a million stories – stories of victims and survivors, mothers and children, brothers and sisters, volunteers and generous donors…the list goes on and on.
Today, we celebrate our independence as a nation. We give thanks to the brave men and women of our country who have paid the ultimate price for us to gain and maintain the many freedoms that we enjoy. We know that we are blessed by our many freedoms – the freedom to vote, to speak our minds, to worship our own God, to make our own decisions about where we live, where we work, whom we marry, and how we spend our time. The 4th of July is a time to recognize and rejoice in the fact that we live in a country where we have choices and freedoms that many nations do not have and that we often may take for granted.
On this Independence Day, however, we must also recognize that while we live in a free nation, there are many within this country who live in bondage behind closed doors. In the United States, one out of every four women report that they have been abused by a spouse or dating partner. Many others will never report their victimization. A victim of domestic violence not only lives in fear of physical harm. She also lives in a world that is void of all freedoms. She is isolated from family and friends. Every aspect of her life is controlled by someone else – her finances, her whereabouts, her daily activities, the way she dresses, who she spends time with – the list goes on and on. A victim of domestic violence may live in the land of the free. But, in her world, freedom does not exist.
When she walks through the door of Safe Harbor for the first time, she is scared. She is broken and bruised, both figuratively and literally. She is exhausted, weary from walking on eggshells and accepting the blame. She is hopeless…
This editorial, written by Safe Harbor’s Executive Director Becky Callaham, is from the Seneca Daily Journal on June 15, 2011.
I would like to respond to the letter to Ask Willie on 6/2/11 regarding domestic violence in Oconee County. The reader is correct in noticing that domestic violence is a significant problem in our community. Based on the most recent numbers (from 2008), South Carolina ranks 9th in the nation for deaths due to domestic violence.
In May 2010, the SC Department of Public Safety published a significant study comparing rates of domestic violence throughout South Carolina from 2004-2008. Domestic violence accounted for 40.6% of all reported violence between 2004-2008. One quarter of all homicides in South Carolina during this period were committed by an intimate partner or family member. In this study, which was based on reports from law enforcement, Oconee County ranked 27th in the state for domestic violence victimization with 498 reported cases of domestic violence in 2008. The deaths due to domestic violence in 2009 (the most current year for which we have statewide statistics) were 2, down from 3 in 2008. In 2009, Oconee County tied with three other counties for the 4th highest rate of domestic violence deaths. Consider the impact of just one friend, sister, mother or daughter whose life is carelessly ended by the person who is supposed to love her.
During the 2010/2011 school year, we launched a new teen education program at Safe Harbor entitled “R.A.P.” (Relationship Education Project). The R.A.P. program is a semester-long curriculum designed to enhance students’ awareness of dating abuse through education and interaction. Throughout the Spring Semester of 2011, Safe Harbor Teen Educator, A.J. Jeffcoat, developed and taught this 15-week curriculum to students at JL Mann Academy, Wade Hampton High School, and Seneca High School. The curriculum engaged the students so that they could gain the knowledge to develop healthy attitudes and to make healthy choices in their relationships. The R.A.P. program serves as a tool to prepare students not only for immediate relationships during high school but also for relationships in the future, as well as prepare them to advocate for healthy relationships in the larger community.
During the final R.A.P. classes this Spring, the students had the opportunity to share their feedback through written evaluations. Their feedback and responses were powerful and confirmed for us that R.A.P. is a needed program in our schools. Please read some of these student comments about what they have learned through the R.A.P. program:
“The RAP program has allowed me to see the do’s and don’ts in a relationship. So, if I ever end up in a bad situation, I will know what to do and who to contact.”
“I have a better understanding of all the warning signs now so I will know how to catch abuse before it starts.”
“I have learned not to blame myself when my boyfriend says something rude to me and to realize when I notice warning signs such as that, to try and end it or seek help.”
“I definitely feel prepared if dating abuse ever starts taking place in my life.”
“The most valuable thing I learned from this class is there is always someone I can talk to if I need help…that goes for anyone.”