South carolina established the first victim assistance program in the nation. The program offers support and to victims and their families as their cases make their way through court and long after.
The Attorney General’s Office held a workshop Monday to connect local organizations with the funding necessary to make this support possible.
The most recent crime statistics reported by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division show there were 373 murders and more than 2600 sexual batteries in 2017.
Burke Fitzpatrick is the director of the Crime Victims Services Division. He explained who these types of programs are centered around.
“These are victims of domestic violence, victims of criminal sexual assault, robbery assault and their lives have been traumatized.”
Many victims and their families require support to make it through such difficult times.
Mary Dell Hayes works with these victims specifically victims of sexual assault. She’s the executive director of the Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands. Dell Hayes explained the group’s role in the community.
Dell Hayes said, “We support them by accompanying them at the hospital. We have a 24- hour hotline. We offer individual and group counseling ,as well as, legal and personal advocacy and the prevention of sexual assault.”
But in order to give this type of 24 hour support, these agencies need their own support. That’s where the AG’s office comes in.
Fitzpatrick added, “We have the privilege of funding positions throughout the state on the county and civil level for victim advocates and other professionals and help them through this trauma.”
Agencies like Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands are in the process of applying for grant money now..
The agencies say the funding is crucial in being able to help those when they need support the most.
“None of these services we wouldnt’ be able to afford the hotline. the training for the advocates.. all of the 24 hour support is possible vecasue of these grants,” added Dell Hayes.
The next round of grant money will be awarded in October.