GREER, S.C. (WSPA) – Silent Tears announced on Thursday a $525,000 matching fundraising campaign to benefit the five South Carolina domestic violence centers most in need.
Organizers say COVID-19 has put “an enormous strain on the underfunded and overworked system” in place to help survivors of domestic violence in a state that consistently ranks among the worst for violence against women.
South Carolina ranks as the fifth-worst state in the nation when it comes to such violence, they said.
The centers that help survivors of domestic violence have faced unanticipated costs during the pandemic, particularly those that have had to house clients in hotels to maintain social distancing standards. Fewer people are donating, federal funding has been cut and fundraising events have been canceled.
Between the loss of control abusers feel, the spike in alcohol and drug use, and the absence of a daily escape in the form of a routine work week, a horrific stage has been set for a surge in cases of domestic abuse, according to the organization.
“The shadow of domestic violence has hung over South Carolina for far too long. It can take a great deal of strength for someone to escape from an abusive relationship. The least we can do is make sure the centers that serve these survivors have the financial resources they need to offer their services during the ongoing pandemic,” said S.C. Sen. Scott Talley, R-Spartanburg. “Silent Tears has emerged as a strong advocate for these centers, and their work serves not only to highlight the need, but also the critical services they provide.”
“We must do everything within our power to show people living in abusive relationships that the infrastructure is in place to help them transition to a life free from interpersonal violence,” said state Rep. Bruce Bannister, R-Greenville. “We hope Silent Tears’ generous matching gift inspires residents across the state to make a contribution to support our domestic violence centers – because for many, these centers are their only way out.”
While residents are encouraged to donate to whatever domestic violence center they prefer, Silent Tears announced a “2020 Emergency Match” campaign, a statewide effort to benefit the five domestic violence centers with the most need.
For every $1 someone donates to one of those five centers, Silent Tears will provide a 2-to-1 matching amount up to $525,000.
· The Pee Dee Coalition (which serves Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Marion, Marlboro, Williamsburg)
· The Cumbee Center (Aiken, Barnwell, Allendale)
· YWCA of Upper Midlands (Sumter, Clarendon and Lee)
· CASA Family Systems (Bamberg, Calhoun and Orangeburg)
· The Safe Home (Abbeville, Laurens, Saluda)
Together, these centers serve 19 of South Carolina’s 46 counties.
Four of the centers – the Pee Dee Coalition, CASA Family Systems, the Cumbee Center and YWCA of the Upper Lowlands – serve areas where roughly 1 in 4 people live in poverty (between 24 and 26 percent). The other, Laurens County Safe Home, services an area where about 18 percent of people live in poverty, and though that percentage is slightly lower, the Laurens service area doesn’t include any large cities, which typically have more robust donor bases.
“Maintaining the safety net in place for survivors of domestic and other forms of abuse can be a life-or-death proposition,” Silent Tears Executive Director Kelly Nichols said. “We hope the 2-to-1 match Silent Tears is providing for the five domestic violence centers with the most need helps amplify the support that’s already in the hearts and minds of so many South Carolina residents – and nudges more people to contribute.”
“We’re all in this together. Help us level the playing field for these women and children in our great state,” Silent Tears founder Bob Castellani said. “Every donation helps. I hope you will prayerfully consider donating.”
To donate, visit the Silent Tears website here.