Oconee Co. Sees Rise In Domestic Violence Deaths - WSPA.com

Oconee Co. Sees Rise In Domestic Violence Deaths

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By Emily Pace

Kathy Tippett never imagined she would be a victim of domestic violence. But on the evening of July 7, 2012 her life changed forever.

"When I turned around out of the closet, he had gotten the gun and had starting shooting me," Tippett recalls.

Tippett says her husband of nine years had never even raised his voice at her before he shot her 12 times inside their West Minister home.

Tippett is the only survivor of what investigators ruled as a murder-suicide between her, her 11-year-old daughter and her daughter's adopted father.

According to the Oconee County Sheriff's Office, four more people have died in domestic violence-related incidents since July.

"It is hard to believe that Oconee County has had that many deaths in that little time," said Rhonda Morgan, a victim's services coordinator.

Morgan works to get help for those in abusive or deadly relationships.

While counseling is available through Safe Harbor, Morgan says there is no shelter to protect those who are trying to leave.

"A lot of times they don't want to take their children out of the one thing that is consistent in their lives and that would be the school system," Morgan said.

The closest shelters are located in Anderson and Greenville Counties.

Morgan says one is needed in Oconee County.

"We ask ourselves in these cases, if we had a shelter would it have prevented it? And we will never know the answer to that question," said Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw.

However, Sheriff Crenshaw believes a shelter would help, and so his office is trying to find a place that Safe Harbor could either use for a shelter or build one.

To break ground on a new facility, Safe Harbor says it will need to raise $1.5 million. The funding will allow the non-profit to open a shelter and pay for three-years of services.

As for Tippett, she's hoping to eventually move on with her life and wants to do whatever she can in the future to save another.

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