Gov. Haley announces reforms to address domestic violence in South Carolina

Gov. Haley announces reforms to address domestic violence in South Carolina

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Your neighbor, a family member - many people's loved ones in South Carolina have fallen victim to domestic violence.

Governor Nikki Haley, with the help of the Domestic Violence Task Force, took steps to change the epidemic in the state Thursday, putting $19 million towards finding a solution to the growing problem.

"On average, a survivor stays with their abuser seven times before they decide to leave," Gov. Haley said. "Seven times they have to be abused before they think they can do something." This is a decision which is becoming more and more common in South Carolina; the state ranked number one for women killed by men.

"We usually expect to see somewhere between 1,500-2,000 [domestic violence incidents] a year in Horry County," 15th Judicial Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said. "I remember going to one and the victim was still there and she was beaten really badly, the knife was still in her."

On any given day, you're bound to come across a domestic violence case on the J Reuben Long Detention Center database.

"The numbers seem to increase year after year, instead of get better," said Karly Buckley with the Rape Crisis Center of Horry and Georgetown Counties. "For October being Domestic Violence month, the month, where you know, you're supposed to be spreading awareness and prevention, it's really heartbreaking to see that we still received 19 calls."

Gov. Haley says enough is enough, and she is taking last year's legislation to make stricter DV laws a step forward.

"We are putting approximately $19 million, which will first of all, takes cases away from officers and actually assign prosecutors; we are going to add 144 new prosecutors," the governor said.

More prosecutors to the state are expected to lessen the workload, and speed up results for victims. According to Gov. Haley, Marion prosecutors get 933 cases.

This will also help take cases away from officers, so they can focus on being out on the street protecting us.

This is one of the ten recommendations by the Domestic Violence task force which will go into action now. There are a total of 50 recommendations. Another puts a new HR plan in place for employers.

"If we find out there's someone that's a survivor in trouble, we're gonna make sure that we're walking them to their car, we're gonna make sure that if we have to change their work times we're gonna change them, we're gonna do what it takes to empower the survivor to get control of their situation," Gov. Haley said.

Also, making sure they know where to get help, with new county-by-county guides, which lists shelter locations, points of contact, what each person can do, and more.

Moving forward, nine professional boards will have to have domestic violence training as part of continuing education credits. In the future, doctors, cosmetologists, pharmacists, social workers, and more, will all be trained to know what to look out for to help get domestic violence survivors the services they need.

Gov. Haley said this initiative starts with changing culture, viewing Domestic Violence victims as survivors.

"The culture needs to change, to where we are our brother's keeper - when we hear or see something that is untoward going on, we gotta get involved and we've gotta be a voice for our neighbors," Solicitor Richardson said.

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