WALTERBORO, SC (April 19, 2023) – The prosecutor’s office, victim service providers, law enforcement and sexual assault survivors joined Tuesday evening in front of the Colleton County Courthouse for Take Back the Night, the longest-standing worldwide movement against sexual violence.
The annual event coincides with Sexual Assault Awareness Month and is organized by Hopeful Horizons, the area’s children’s advocacy, domestic violence and rape-crisis center. Tuesday’s event was the first conducted in Colleton County, according to 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone, who was one of the evening’s guest speakers.
“This is about empowering survivors and encouraging victims to reclaim control of their own lives and emotions,” Stone said.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Jennifer Talley of the 14th Circuit Victims Services Center echoed Stone’s message:
“Healing is possible,” Talley said. “When you leave here tonight, not only do I want you to feel empowered … When I provide care to those who have been victimized, it is my goal to give back the control that was lost at the hands of the offender. It is my goal to help you regain your voice, to give back the autonomy of your body, and the power to stand up against those who sought to destroy you.”
Talley oversees the 14th Circuit SAFE Program, which provides specialized medical examinations following a sexual assault. Since the program’s inception in October 2019, no fewer than 115 adult sexual assault exams and 45 pediatric exams have been performed by program nurses at area hospitals and at the VSC, located inside the Solicitor’s Office’s headquarters in Okatie.
“If you don’t think there isn’t a problem, there is,” said Rose Ewing of the Hopeful Horizons.
“An American is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds. And every 9 minutes, that victim is a child.”
Ewing encouraged the crowd and to the sexual assault survivors who shared their stories
“Help is available,” she said. “You don’t have to go at this alone.”
If you have suffered domestic abuse, have been sexually assaulted, or know someone who has, call the 14th Circuit Victims Services Center’s 24-hour hotline at 843-790-6220. You can also email the center at [email protected] or visit the center’s website at https://scsolicitor14.org/victim-services-center/.