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I Am A Survivor, An Intern, An Advocate

I became involved with Hopeful Horizons first as a Community Education and Outreach Intern with a focus on Domestic Violence while working on a second degree at the University of South Carolina. Working with domestic violence victims has been an interest of mine for many years.

I am a DV survivor myself and understand many of the barriers that make it difficult for victims to leave their abusers. This helps me to be empathetic to the clients we see at Hopeful Horizons.

I am also a hospital victim’s advocate for Hopeful Horizons (volunteer position). As an advocate for the victims of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. I generally meet the victim at the emergency room after the assault. This can be a very scary time of crisis and I attempt to be a calming presence. I let the victim know about Hopeful Horizons and the services we offer. I also talk to them about giving consent to have someone from Hopeful Horizon’s contact them to discuss services after leaving the hospital.

One of the most surprising things I learned through the training with Hopeful Horizons is that South Carolina ranked 5th nationwide in domestic homicides. Having recently moved here I did not realize that for the last 22 years, South Carolina has ranked in the top 10 states for the highest rate of women being killed through domestic violence.

As a Hospital Victim's Advocate, I have been most surprised by the amount of shame and blame rape crisis, sexual assault and DV victims put on themselves. I can honestly say that every person I have met with at the hospital has known the person who assaulted them. They thought they were friends and did not expect the sexual assault. They blamed themselves for “letting their guard down,” for “drinking too much,” for “being in the wrong place” … yet none of them gave consent. Our society seems to be filled with toxic masculinity that leads to a culture of violence.

One of the needs I see in our community is for more training within law enforcement and the healthcare communities regarding domestic violence and sexual assault. We have a culture of blaming the victim, but through education and training, that stigmatization can be overcome. I also believe that it is important for the community to understand that violence is everywhere, and many people are very good at hiding it. Our culture is so preoccupied with how things look on the outside, but there are victims of domestic violence and child abuse living in everyone’s neighborhood. It does not matter what ethnicity you are or what your financial status is.

I think it is also important to make the community aware of all the services Hopeful Horizons offers - especially counseling and legal services. If you or someone you know need their services, reach out today! Hopeful Horizons’ Support Line is available 24/7 at 843-770-1070.

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