For Immediate Release
July 9, 2012
People Against Rape Responds to Governor Haley’s Veto of Funding for Rape Crisis Centers
People Against Rape (PAR) joins the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SCCADVASA) and Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands(STSM) to express our shock and dismay over Governor Haley’s decision to slash funding for sexual assault services and prevention in South Carolina. Veto 51 eliminates $453,680 in the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) budget for rape crisis centers in South Carolina.
People Against Rape was established in 1974, making us the oldest rape crisis center in this state. In 2011, our advocates and volunteers served over 700 women, men and children of sexual assault and /or abuse in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties. Our advocacy services include a 24 hour crisis hotline, accompaniment to the hospital for forensic exams, support groups and individual counseling. In addition to our advocacy services, our Educator taught awareness and prevention programs to over 10,000 students in the tri-county school system. Primary prevention and education addresses the problem of sexual abuse before it occurs. We are in the schools talking to students about healthy relationships, bullying and sexual harassment because they are the ones who are affected. Teaching adults to recognize the signs of abuse is only one step in preventing abuse. We must teach our children prevention steps as well. All of our services are provided at no cost to our clients.
Since 2008, PAR and all 14 other sexual assault programs have experienced a 54% cut in state funds. If this veto stands, we will be in the position of having to try to absorb a further 37% decrease from our already low funding from last year. PAR’s existence is uncertain unless Veto 51 is overridden.
Governor Haley stated in her explanation, “Each of these lines attempts to serve a portion of our population for which we extend our sympathy and encouragement, but nevertheless, it is only a small portion of South Carolina’s chronically ill or abused.” While I appreciate Governor Haley’s sympathy and encouragement on behalf of our clients, I must say that I don’t think they need her sympathy, they need our services. We cannot provide those services when our funding continues to be cut year after year. Every four hours and 46 minutes, someone is forcibly raped in South Carolina. Our acute cases for the month of February 2012 tripled from the number of victims we saw in February 2011. Governor Haley concludes her statement with “Each new special interest that wins an earmark takes more of DHEC’s attention away from its overall mission.” DHEC’s mission states: “We promote and protect the health of the public and the environment”. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has consistently stated that sexual violence is a public health issue. Early access to an advocate can drastically reduce the negative impacts of sexual violence. Those negative impacts include increases in rates of sexually transmitted diseases, eating disorders, teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol usage, and depression. We cannot continue to combat this serious health epidemic in South Carolina without the support of our citizens and our State government.
Melonea Locklair Marek