The statistics are life-altering and not good: One in 15 U.S. children is exposed to domestic violence each year, with 90 percent being eyewitnesses to the abuse.
Sadly, South Carolina ranks fifth in the nation for the rate of women murdered by their intimate male partner, after being ranked No. 1 in five of the past10 years. Children in domestic-abuse households are also subject to verbal, sexual and physical trauma. If they do not get help and treatment, their future is predictably bleak, and we all suffer as they experience school drop-out, incarceration, failed relationships and more. However, when abused children receive the care they need, they heal and live full and productive lives.
In 2015, in response to these astoundingly high levels of domestic violence, the Governor’s Domestic Violence Task Force was formed, and the Domestic Violence Reform Act was passed, making it an additional crime to commit domestic violence in the presence of, or while being perceived by, a minor. This law has increased the demand for services at South Carolina’s 17 children’s advocacy centers.
The Dickerson Children’s Advocacy Center has served thousands over the past two decades in the Lexington, Edgefield, Saluda and McCormick counties. Currently, it serves more than 500 children annually.
The center, founded in 1995, offers a continuum of care under one roof, including conducting forensic interviews and exams, and offering trauma-focused mental health and victim advocacy services. Its multi-disciplinary team approach allows medical, law enforcement, legal and social work professionals to collaborate on each abuse case. With our high level of domestic violence, we are lucky to have the Dickerson Center. I view the staff as a team of angels
I hope the Dickerson Center and Lexington County — which created a domestic-violence court in 1999 — will continue to do what is necessary to heal these wounds such that these children recover, heal and grow to enjoy their lives’ fullest potential. Learn more at dickersoncac.org.