$32 million in grants awarded to South Carolina victims advocacy groups

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FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — Attorney General Alan Wilson held a news conference Wednesday in Florence, where he announced the awarding of $32 million in grants that will go to help victims of crime in South Carolina. The S.C. Public Safety Coordinating Council formally approved the grants earlier this year and the projects begin October 1.

Nikeisha Martin, a domestic and sexual abuse survivor, shared her story with the audience in Wednesday’s news conference.

“My journey started as a child. I was born into brokenness. My parents were broken and didn’t show me how to love so I then began to look for love in the wrong places,” Martin said.

The now mother of 8 boys says she was married to a veteran who had PTSD and she still remembers the traumatizing days she endured.

“At the time I didn’t realize and I was also ignoring red flags. One day he just snapped. My children were coming in. One by one he will snatch them up, choke them, question them. Installing that fear,” Martin says.

That’s just one incident she spoke on. She days with the help of $32 million to help crime victims across the state will save many who may find themselves in a similar situation.

“Employment and housing. If they don’t have those 2 things they are going back. That is what I see first hand dealing with it myself so the state…we need that support,” Martin said.

Megan Temple with The CARE House of the Pee Dee, says the organization has helped over 600 kids in abusive situations in just this year alone. She says these funds will help with things such as staffing, housing and any other needs to keep organizations going.

“They also wouldn’t have the healing piece in regards to the therapeutic process and that is such an important piece in how they can heal so that they can become productive members of our society,” Temple said.

In a release sent from the AG’s office:

The grants are distributed by the Department of Crime Victim Assistance Grants in the Attorney General’s Office.  The Department was added to the Attorney General’s Office by state law in 2017. There are three different types of grants: Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants; Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grants; and State Victim Assistance Program (SVAP) grants.

“These state and local agencies and non-profit groups do so much to help people who are going through traumatic circumstances.  With these funds, we are able to support agencies throughout the state as they assist victims of violent crime in their recovery,” Attorney General Alan Wilson said.

The grants are being awarded to private non-profit groups, Sheriff’s offices, police departments, solicitor’s offices, and state agencies. For example, Foothills Alliance, based in Anderson County, is receiving two VOCA grants and one VAWA grant for approximately $705,975 for Child Advocacy Services and an array of services for survivors of sexual assault. Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands is receiving a grant for over $1.2 million that provides rapid response and resolution for sexual assault victims’ needs through crisis intervention, advocacy, and counseling. Hopeful Horizons, in Beaufort County, is receiving two awards totaling approximately $1.3 million providing wrap-around services to victims of domestic violence, rape crisis victims, and is also a Children’s Advocacy Center. Hopeful Horizons provides these services in Allendale, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper Counties. “The grant staff of the Crime Victim Services Division in the Attorney General’s Office is honored to work with the hundreds of caring, dedicated professionals who help victims of crime every day in South Carolina”, said Barbara Jean “B.J.” Nelson, Director of the Division. “Our goal is to have the most effective, and the most compassionate, victim service system across the United States.”

Approximately 98 percent of the money comes from federal grants, with the remaining portion from state funds.  Both VOCA and VAWA are administered by the US Department of Justice. VOCA uses non-taxpayer money from the Crime Victims Fund. VAWA is appropriated by Congress. It is important to note that VOCA funds come from federal fines and penalties, not from taxpayers, and it does not add to the national debt or deficit in any way.

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