CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Data show one in three women is a victim of domestic violence in South Carolina.

For forty years, My Sister’s House has worked as a leader in domestic violence victim service, recovery, and advocacy.  Now, the agency has made a major shift in its service model to provide more specialized services to survivors by providing private shelter.

Lori Vondohlen, 43, and another mother of three who wanted to remain anonymous are survivors, after enduring 20 years of domestic abuse.

“He threw me on the bed and choked me,” Vondohlen recalled. “I thought I was going to die right then. He then lifted me up by my hair and slammed my head against our dresser. I ended up going to the emergency room and getting staples in my head because he busted my head open.”

She went on to say, “I kept letting him back in, and I would give him another chance, and it would get really uncomfortable really quick. One of the things My Sister’s House helped me understand was the cycle of abuse.”

The anonymous mother also recalled an incident, saying, “We had our last incident in January 2020. He made me immediately honestly want to die, but then I realized, that if I want to save my life, I need to make some phone calls, and I need to reach out for help. That’s what I did. I contacted My Sister’s House and within a week I was here receiving services.”

My Sister’s House is the only full-service longest-running domestic violence agency serving Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties.  

Tosha Conner, CEO of My Sister’s House said, “My Sister’s House is more than just a house.  We help domestic violence victims find their way from victimhood to survivorhood.  We have a full breadth of services, case management, clinical therapy, court advocacy and housing assistance and more.”

My Sister’s House recently changed its program model. They are selling the shelter, a 40-year cornerstone of their services, and are now shifting to multi-sites throughout the tri-county area, the first in South Carolina to make this change.

“The big shift is that we’re no longer offering emergency shelter in a congregate care setting. This was precipitated by Covid.  We’re still offering emergency shelter to victims in the tri-county area, but it looks a little different,” said Conner. “The services are really tailored to the individual. We’re offering a private sheltering model that really focuses on the needs of the client, so the length of stay, the types of services, and the range of services will really depend on what that exact client needs.”

Helping women break cycles of violence.  

“I broke that cycle and moved on with my life, and be a better person than I was, and if I can help other women do that, that’s what I want to do.  I do feel like My Sister’s House had a big part in saving my life,” said Vondohlen.

If you or someone you know needs help, call My Sister’s House hotline at 1-800-273-HOPE or 843-744-3242.