Horry County saw over 1,000 domestic violence cases in 2020, shelter in the works

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 7:41 PM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Horry County will soon no longer have to share a domestic violence shelter with Georgetown County.

South Carolina’s latest state budget sets aside $1.5 million for Horry County’s only domestic violence shelter. 15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said as the county’s population continues to grow, the shelter is a must.

In 2020, Richardson said his office saw 103 domestic violence cases out of Georgetown County land on his desk, while Horry County had 1,072.

He said the single most important thing they can do right now to curb domestic violence is bringing more resources like the shelter to Horry County.

“Not by funding other prosecutors, not by more police, it really is by building up the victims of domestic violence, through organizations like the Family Justice Center,” Richardson said.

Richardson also explained that, in recent years, the state government has made punishments stricter for abusers. They’ve also made laws tougher in an effort to reduce domestic violence.

However, Richardson says this isn’t enough.

“The part that we’re missing here locally, is we haven’t done a great job of helping the victim,” he added.

Kim Parsons currently runs the Family Justice Center and says while they still have an office in Myrtle Beach, bringing a full shelter will help tremendously.

“This is a chaotic situation when people are leaving a domestic violence situation,” she said. “And I think people think oh wow they’re getting out and that’s great they’re getting out and it is great but there’s also a lot of other things that come along with that.”

Parsons said an architect is working on plans now, but it will be in Conway near Highway 501. That way, domestic violence survivors have a central location in the county to come to and can avoid trips that can be over an hour to get help.

Richardson said not only will this mean more people in need will likely use the shelter if it’s closer, but the counseling and services the shelter provides will also help make sure more victims can testify.

It can also help put guilty offenders in prison.

Parsons says currently about 70% of the people they help are from Horry County. The Georgetown shelter can only house nine people, but the new shelter should have up to 20 beds.

“Our hope is that for every person who calls and desperately we need to get out of a violent situation, we’re going to have the ability to do so,” she said.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Throughout the month, the Family Justice Center is hosting fundraisers and events.

A list of those events, and how you can help donate to the new shelter, can be found here.

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