Lawmakers reversed course on a South Carolina budget proposal that would trim hundreds of thousands of dollars for victims of domestic violence.
The House on Wednesday morning voted unanimously to restore a chunk of the $800,000 in domestic violence funds cut from an earlier budget draft. Those cuts, lawmakers said, were originally proposed as a way to cover costs related to Hurricane Matthew relief.
But advocates warned they would have greatly hurt efforts to combat domestic violence.
“If the funds go away, I feel that the abuse is going to increase,” said Doug Warner, who lost his daughter to domestic violence and is the founder of a non-profit in Charleston that is dedicated to assisting victims and their families.
Warner told News 2 he knew his daughter, Liza, was in trouble in late 2004.
“The first time he really attacked her was Labor Day weekend,” Warner said. “That’s not something a daughter wants to tell her dad.”
Although his daughter made adjustments to remove herself from her home and an abusive spouse, it wasn’t enough.
“He broke into the house, he had a shotgun. He killed her.”
Liza’s story is hardly isolated. Nationwide, about three women are killed by a current or former partner every day.
In South Carolina, the domestic murder rate consistently ranks the state among the nation’s worst.
Many contend lawmakers need to push new reforms and dedicate fresh funds to domestic violence victims, their families and communities.
With or without state and local funds, the efforts to stop abuse continues. And that’s how “Liza’s Lifeline” started. It’s a non-profit named for a person who should have lived past the age of 29-years old.
Liza Warner’s life was cut short when her husband shot and killed her on Oct. 1, 2004. He then took his own life.
Her father and Shirley Warner, Liza’s stepmother, turned their family’s loss into a means of honoring life and providing hope.
They, along with others dedicated to their cause, formed Liza’s Lifeline of South Carolina, Inc. and obtained official 501 (c)(3) public charity status on June 16, 2008.
“It’s a very coordinated effort to help victims of domestic violence. They know where to go,” said Warner.
His efforts spread and he now works closely with a resource team made-up of law enforcement officers, legal and counseling services, and other victim advocates.
“People who work in the community with victims now know each other, this has helped us put together programs very quickly,” said Patricia Warner Kurent.
The group, with more than 200 members, meets routinely and hopes to create a road map for victims and families who need emergency care.
Called the Tri County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, they ensure those like Liza — will always have the resources they need.
“I had 29 years with this remarkable woman. It still hurts,” Warner said of his daughter.
Liza’s family comes together each year to celebrate her birthday by going out to eat, and they often take a walk on the beach to mark the anniversary of her death.