Domestic Violence Resources
14th Circuit Victims Services
Services for Sexual Assault Survivors
Partners & Resources
Domestic Violence Services
Does your partner push you, slap you, choke you or hit you? Does your partner tell you that you are a bad parent and threaten to take your children away? Perhaps your partner acts as if the abuse is no big deal. To the contrary, it too often turns deadly – a 2018 Washington Post analysis of 4,484 killings of women indicated nearly half died at the hands of an intimate partner.
Why doesn’t she just leave?
It’s a question asked time and again about victims of domestic violence. On average, a battered victim is harmed seven times before deciding to flee his or her abuser for good. Most would leave sooner, but abusers often manipulate their victims psychologically, as well as physically. They might control their finances, threaten to take their kids away or convince them that no one will believe their story of abuse. Even those who recognize this treatment for what it is – a means of intensifying the abuse, rather than a reason to stay put – the challenge is just beginning. Leaving an abusive situation, after all, requires planning and, often, assistance with legal, financial, medical and childcare matters. Many nonprofit groups and government agencies in the 14th Judicial Circuit can provide that assistance.
We can help
If you have any questions or have changed phone numbers or addresses since you filled out your Victim Impact Statement, please contact our office at 843-779-8477 or email.
14th Circuit Victims Services Center
Now, the Solicitor’s Office has brought those providers under a single roof.
No longer must victims crisscross the Lowcountry to arrange shelter at one stop, financial assistance at another and childcare at yet another. You can arrange the services you need to escape a potentially lethal situation in just one stop.
The Fourteenth Circuit Victims Services Center is housed in the secure Solicitor’s Office headquarters in Okatie. There, nonprofit partners such as Hopeful Horizons, the Child Abuse Prevention Association and Lowcountry Legal Volunteers have office space and can arrange services for you in a single visit. The center’s aim is to help those in need transition from victim to survivor.
You do not have to be a victim in a case prosecuted by the Solicitor’s Office to use the center’s services. What’s more, we are here to assist not only victims of domestic violence, but of sexual assault, child abuse and other crimes against vulnerable people.
Not sure if you are really a victim of domestic violence?
Read this description of abuse from the National Domestic Abuse Hotline.
The Children's Center
Providing a safe and comfortable space for interviews, assessments, counseling and treatment.
Within the Victims Center is a colorful area decorated in a nautical theme. Squirt the turtle lounges on a rock in an aquarium. The room is staffed by smiling faces. It is a calming, child-friendly place designed with young victims of abuse and sexual assault in mind. As with victims of domestic violence, children who have been raped or abused often had to travel all over the Lowcountry to find the services they need. In fact, before the Victims Services Center opened, children who were sexually abused typically had to travel all the way to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston for a forensic exam.
Services for Sexual Assault Survivors
Those who have suffered a sexual assault often need many of the same services as domestic-violence victims. This help is available in the Victims Center, as well. However, convenience isn’t the only benefit the Fourteenth Circuit Victims Center affords. Another is “trauma-informed” care.
What does that mean?
It’s an approach based of knowledge of trauma’s impact on victims, aimed at ensuring environments and services are welcoming and engaging for recipients. One way we can do that is by limiting the number of times a victim has to retell their story. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a person reporting a rape to give their story to a responding law-enforcement officer, then to an investigator, then to a forensic nurse before making another, written statement to law-enforcement … all within hours of an attack. Each time, the victim runs the risk of reliving the trauma.
SAFE Program & Medical Programs
Access to forensic nursing services
In conjunction with the Fourteenth Circuit Victims Services Center, the Solicitor’s Office has launched a program to address the statewide shortage of sexual assault nurse examiners, particularly those trained to conduct pediatric forensic exams. A sexual assault nurse examiner is a registered nurse with advanced education and clinical preparation in sexual assault medical examinations. Forensic nurse examiners respond to victims of sexual trauma when it is needed the most.
Those who live in the 14th Circuit and are interested in receiving this training should send a message to [email protected] You can also contact:
Michelle Fraser, VSC Director
Email: [email protected]
What to expect from forensic medical exams:
Adult survivors of a recent sexual assault can have the forensic medical exam conducted within the timeframe of the assault, even if they do not choose to report to law enforcement.
This is known as Anonymous Reporting in South Carolina. Evidence is collected and all other aspects of the exam are done in the same manner as a patient that does report.
Survivors also have the option to have a “Just Medical Exam,” which includes treatment and/or testing for sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and a physical examination without a sexual assault kit collection for evidence.
Other facts about forensic exams:
- The aim of the forensic exam is to assess a victim’s health care needs, coordinate treatment of any injuries and collect evidence for potential use during case investigation and prosecution.
- Since the body is the crime scene, evidence is time-sensitive. It is best to seek medical attention immediately.
An examination by a health care provider is still recommended even if:
Solicitor's Office Special Victims Unit
Recognizing the circumstances faced by victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as unique challenges in prosecuting these crimes, Solicitor Duffie Stone launched a Special Victims Unit in late 2017.
Using a federal grant administered by the S.C. Attorney General’s Office, he formed a team of three prosecutors, a victim advocate and an investigator. This unit is devoted exclusively to the prosecution of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and other crimes against vulnerable populations, such as the elderly.
In its first two years of operation, the SVU had disposed of more than 415 cases and secured conviction in 75 percent of the charges it prosecuted in jury trials. That’s a remarkable accomplishment considering that, over the same span, the conviction rate in jury trials for all crimes in South Carolina was 68 percent, dropping to 40 percent for trials involving domestic violence or sexual-assault charges.
The SVU is housed on the first floor of the Solicitor’s Office headquarters, just down the hall from the Victims Center. This is by design.
“We work closely with our partners in the center,” Solicitor Stone said. “Cooperation brings greater insight into
our criminal cases and makes everyone more attuned
to victims’ needs. Restoring their peace of mind and their autonomy is part of seeking justice, as far as I’m concerned.”
While the SVU is an important component of the Victims Services Center, there is no requirement that those who use its services be the victim of someone with charges pending with the Solicitor’s Office … or even that the victim cooperate with the prosecution if charges are pending.
“While we certainly hope that over time the center’s existence means we’re able to bring more offenders to justice, we’re not measuring the Victims Center’s success by the number of convictions our office secures,” Stone said. “We’re measuring success by the number of victims who become survivors.”
Victim Center Partners
The 14th Circuit Victims Services Center is a community initiative launched by the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office and its partners. It brings together a team of professionals to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child and elder abuse, and other crimes against vulnerable populations within the 14th Judicial Circuit. The center aims to reduce the number of times victims must tell their story and the number of places victims must go for help.
The 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office is the chief prosecuting agency for Allendale, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties. Our primary role is to prosecute all cases in General Sessions Court, certain misdemeanors in Magistrate’s Court and all criminal cases in Family Court. Services to crime victims were expanded in 2017 to include a Special Victims Unit, which focuses on domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault cases.
Hopeful Horizons is a children’s advocacy, domestic violence and rape crisis center serving the 14th Circuit. Hopeful Horizons offers a 24-hour crisis line and emergency shelter for victims of intimate partner violence and their children, court accompaniment, adult and children’s counseling and case management. They offer legal assistance and victim advocacy in Family Court to include the filing of Orders of Protection and restraining orders. www.hopefulhorizons.org
The Child Abuse Prevention Association of Beaufort provides prevention and intervention programs that break the cycle of child abuse and neglect. It uses school-based safety and character-development programs for children, teen pregnancy prevention programs, and a variety of parent education and support programs. Since opening in 1985, the Open Arms Children’s Home has been home to more than 2,100 children. Capabeaufort.org
Lowcountry Legal Volunteers provides free, critical legal services and education through community volunteers and retired lawyers to low-income families in Beaufort, Hampton, and Jasper counties. LCLV handles civil cases in the following areas: adoption, child custody, visitation, child support, divorce, name changes, simple consumer matters, eviction actions, lease termination, simple wills and probate.
The Lowcountry Alliance for Healthy Youth is a community prevention coalition in southern Beaufort County that brings together all sectors of the community to identify and implement strategies that promote positive youth development. It addresses substance use/abuse and related risk behaviors. LCAHY is a recipient of a Drug-Free Communities Support Program Grant.
Other Organizations That Can Help
The Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons was established in 1979 by Dan Barton, a local minister and his wife, Melanie Barton, to assist victims of domestic violence. The Cumbee Center opened its first emergency shelter for battered women and their children in 1984 to shelter domestic violence victims of Aiken, Allendale and Barnwell counties.
The S.C. Victim Assistance Network was formed more than 30 years ago to advocate on behalf of victims who had little voice and few rights in South Carolina’s legal system. It aims to ensure all crime victims receive access to and assistance from the criminal justice system; improve the quality of services provided to crime victims by victim advocates; and ensure the criminal justice system adequately serves crime victims.
Approved South Carolina Batterers' Intervention and Treatment Program providers within the 14th Judicial Circuit include:
Washington’s Family Counseling
2201 Boundary St.
Beaufort, SC 29902
4 Dunmore Court, Ste. 203
Hilton Head Island, SC 29926
77 Hazzard Creek Village Dr., Unit C
P.O. Box 1343
Ridgeland, SC 29936