Raising Awareness of Domestic Violence in OC
Oconee County has the dubious distinction of being the county in the state with the highest rate of domestic violence. Safe Harbor is a nonprofit organization that provides safe shelter, counseling and advocacy for victims of domestic violence. Amanda Callahan, Relationship Education Project Educator for Safe Harbor in Oconee County gives details. “When we talk about the highest domestic violence rates, it is not necessarily based on the number of incidences that are reported, it is actually based of the number of deaths because that is the only true marker that we have to measure domestic violence. So, not only in Oconee County do we have the highest distinction of counties in the state of South Carolina but then South Carolina ranks number two in the nation in terms of deaths due to domestic violence.” South Carolina has ranked in the top ten of states with the highest rate of domestic violence since data was first collected, adds Callahan. “It is scary to think that South Carolina is number two in the nation, but the more scarier part for me to understanding this is that South Carolina, since we have been collecting data, we have never been out of the top ten. We have been six, seven, eight, and nine, so, it is not like number two came out of nowhere, we have got a very serious history and a very serious pattern of domestic violence in our state.” Callahan tells how to get involved in the fight against domestic violence. “It can be as simple as making a donation, if that is the easy thing for you to do, then do that. But it is also about being a part of the conversation. Talk about it, talk to your neighbors, talk with your children, and talk to your church community. Be apart of that conversation, be a part of that dialogue and let’s bring it to the surface and that is how we are going to stop this issue from happening in Oconee County.” Safe Harbor is trying to break the cycle of domestic violence by prevention through education, intervention through safe shelter and transformation through support. It seeks to eliminate domestic violence and create a culture of healthy relationships in the Upstate of South Carolina. Safe Harbor serves the four-county area of Anderson, Greenville, Oconee and Pickens. It operates a 24-hour Crisis Line at 1-800-291-2139.