SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA)- Nurses, therapists, doctors, and police officers stood alongside each other Tuesday morning to receive grants that will serve as fuel for them to get through this next year of serving the community.
“This problem grows every day and the need for funding grows with it,” said Danny Varat, CEO of Safe Harbor.
The growing problem is the crime and abuse the state is seeing, and it’s something these first responders are dealing with first-hand.
“They are living in a war zone in their own homes,” said Candace Timmerman, director of housing programs at Meg’s House. “Oftentimes as advocates, we hear the phrase why won’t you just leave? As advocates, we know that does not stop the abuse or stalking. Leaving an abusive relationship can often increase the violence and ultimately end in a homicide. It is critical for organizations to provide safety planning.”
Attorney General Alan Wilson said a federal Victims of Crime Act program will receive 71 percent of the $32 million, and state victim assistance and services programs will receive 19 percent. The rest will go to nonprofits.
It’s all to pay for services that include things like transitional housing or immediate care, but also includes other aspects of an incident that are overlooked.
“Forensic interviews for children and developmentally adults who are victims of crime,” said Wilson. “I cannot underscore how important that is because oftentimes the system that is designed to protect people, especially young children, unintentionally revictimizes them by having them tell the same story of abuse over and over again and a lot of these children advocacy centers make it a one-stop shop.”
Many who are on the front lines spoke about how they’ve already benefited from funding like this.
“We’ve added two additional forensic nurses to our team and have expanded from just sexual assault to also providing services for patients after domestic violence,” said Jennifer Combs, forensic nurse coordinator at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare.
“Last year our crisis line answered over 3,500 calls and we provided direct service to over 1,000 individuals and this funding makes it possible for us to do this,” said Varat.
Attorney General Alan Wilson said he hopes this not only helps these first responders but sends a message to those who need it.
“We can’t undo what happened to you but we can certainly help you find an offramp to a better future,” said Wilson. “Look to my left, look to my right, look behind me. There is an army of men and women just waiting for you to reach out to them and they will come running.”
This money is not taxpayer money but is coming from federal fines and penalties or the federal crime victim fund. It does not add to the national debt or deficit in any way.