by Samantha Tucker, Grants Manager, Safe Harbor
When I was 12, I was tired of being a tomboy and I wanted to be a cheerleader… to give bows and skirts a chance. Tryouts were a several-day process of learning one chant and one cheer (those are apparently two very different things), then performing them in front of a judging panel. Simple enough.
I started out overconfident – after all, I was a gymnast and I could tumble across the floor like a rock skipping across water. What more could it take? But as the time drew closer my confidence lessened. I suddenly felt less cute than the other girls, like I was wearing a costume. I felt out of place. I felt ill prepared. My nerves hurt my stomach and I thought I might cry.
I walked into the gym and the panic intensified. I froze. There I stood, ponytailed girls chanting all around me, my feet stuck to the ground and my lips pressed closed. It was awful. How had I gone from an easygoing athletic girl to someone I’d never known myself to be?
Jennifer describes being a victim as being in many little pieces without knowledge of how to put the pieces back together. What a powerful way to depict the experience. Having worked at Safe Harbor for eight years, I’ve never heard it phrased this way but it very much resonates with me. As I listened to her, I recalled that feeling from back when I was 12 years old – I’d known what I was capable of and what I needed to do. But those feelings of inadequacy, of fear, of insecurity, and of panic were so much stronger. They were completely debilitating.
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…
Safe Harbor was granted funds from the Office of Violence Against Women in early Fall 2009 to begin a Transitional Housing Program for victims of domestic violence. In January 2010, Safe Harbor began to serve the clients in our Shelter Programs by offering them the opportunity to participate in the newly formed Transitional Housing Program that serves 15 families within the 4-county radius that we serve (Anderson, Oconee, Pickens, and Greenville). In this program, participants can choose from living in a housing unit provided by the Upstate Homeless Coalition, or they can choose to live in an apartment of their choice. In both phases of the program, the participants will receive rental assistance payments from Safe Harbor on a decreasing scale. For example: Safe Harbor will pay 100% of their total amount of rent and utilities if they live in an apartment, for 6 consecutive months; then Safe Harbor will pay 75% of the total amount, and the participant will be responsible for 25% of the total amount of her rent and utilities for the next consecutive six months. The transitional housing program will continue assisting the participant with her rent and utilities in this manner, gradually decreasing the amount of assistance each six months until the client is responsible for paying the total amount of her rent and utilities in full after a 2 year period.
From the Greenville News – August 8, 2010
Jessica Anderson. Natasha Kerns. Christine Crane: Three women who lost their lives this summer in Greenville County. Not to an illness, cancer or a horrible accident. Each one lost her life because the man who was supposed to love her allegedly took it from her. Each one silenced forever by domestic violence.
In South Carolina, where we promote family values and Southern hospitality, we are literally loving each other to death. South Carolina ranked No. 8 last year for the number of women killed by men. The previous year, South Carolina ranked No. 2. This is hardly an improvement, as South Carolina has consistently ranked in the Top 10.
According to the S.C. Department of Public Safety, Greenville County ranks No. 1 in the state for family violence victimization, No. 2 for domestic violence victimization, No. 2 for domestic violence aggravated assault and No. 2 for domestic violence simple assault.
by Julie Meredith, Director of Volunteers & Communication, Safe Harbor
Faith communities and churches provide a social network for individuals and families, comfort for the grieving, hope for those who are depressed, redemption for sinners, and care for the sick. When a church member is diagnosed with cancer, he/she is upheld in the prayers of the congregation and supported with encouraging cards. When a family in the church loses a loved one, church members bring meals and send flowers. In many churches, support groups and counseling are available for people who are dealing with addictions, grief, divorce, or other concerns.
But, what kind of support does a person receive from her congregation when she reveals that she is being abused by her spouse or partner? After working at Safe Harbor for the past two years, I honestly cannot answer this question. It is difficult to know what a victim of domestic violence might experience when she turns to her congregation for help. I have learned that the kind of support that a victim receives tends to vary from congregation to congregation. Congregational support for victims depends on the congregation’s leadership, its membership, its theology and beliefs, and its understanding of domestic violence.
Here are the stories of two victims: