CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – South Carolina ranks 6th for the most domestic violence-related deaths in the nation, but one local woman works to change that.
Gwen Reed, founder of Ebony’s Hope, felt the impact of domestic violence when her sister, Ebony Spann was shot and killed by her boyfriend in 2018. Reed later founded the nonprofit, Ebony’s Hope which works to raise awareness about domestic violence and gives victims the resources they need to get out of a violent relationship.
In 2018, there were 41 domestic violence-related deaths in the state, but Reed works bring that number down.
“I keep going until we lower these numbers. It’s 41 this year, if it’s 40 next year, I’ve worked. Because I was taught when you touch one, you touch 10,” Reed said.
On Saturday, Reed hosted a domestic violence awareness event. Several victims advocate groups and South Carolina Senator, Greg Hembree were in attendance.
Senator Hembree says solving the domestic violence epidemic goes beyond creating stricter laws.
“We’ve done the trainings, we’ve hired the prosecutors, police know how to investigate these cases, we’ve provided the equipment, changed the laws, we did that in the general assembly a few years ago, but in spite of all of that, we still have this huge problem, but when you can bring awareness to it and call it for what it is and refuse to accept it, that’s when it’s really going to change,” Senator Hembree said.
Domestic violence advocates like Alicia Rahiem with Project Unity USA agree; she says education is key to saving lives.
Often times people aren’t aware of the reasons why people stay, they get caught up in myths, ‘oh she must like it, why doesn’t she get out?’ And if you think about it, if you sit down and you really become knowledgable, you’ll realize that it’s not that easy to walk away.”
Ebony’s Hope was founded to help get domestic violence victims the resources they need to walk away.
“If we save just one, that’s what that says to me, that I can lower this number; not just me, you can lower this number, we the people in Horry, Georgetown, the 15th Circuit can lower this number by educating people about domestic violence. This can’t go on,” Reed said.
To learn more about Ebony’s Hope or to get involved, click here.
To get help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.