Those who attended Saturday’s Breaking the Silence award gala know the importance of combating domestic violence. The event was hosted by The Zonta Club of Charleston and benefiting Zonta and Liza’s Lifeline of South Carolina.
What was new to some was the news that human trafficking is happening here, in our state, in Charleston. That’s what my Tuesday column is about.
Seeing Doug and Shirley Warner was so moving, as was meeting Debbie McCravy, whose daughter Leslie was a victim of criminal domestic violence and in whose memory the Leslie McCravy 5k Run/Walk was established.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight those who were honored Saturday night.
Here are the four award winners, with bio information from that night’s program:
Latasha Rivers, the Outreach Program Manager at the National Crime Victims Treatment and Research Center at MUSC, was honored as Best Professional. She is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked primarily with the Latino community. She is the program manager for a Violence Against Women Act grant providing psychological treatment to Hispanic women who are victims of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse and violence.
Sue Warren, a Victim Advocate with the Mount Pleasant Police Department, was honored as Best Advocate. She previously worked as an advocate with My Sister’s House and has been recognized by People Against Rape as an outstanding service provider. She established the Domestic Violence Support Group in 1998, a confidential forum where victims of domestic and sexual assault can gather and talk with other women who can relate to what they’re going through.
Abby Himmelein was honored as Best Volunteer. She’s been a volunteer at My Sister’s House and has served as a crisis-line counselor, family court advocate and fund raiser since she semi-retired to the Lowcountry in 2005, after a long and distinguished career helping women and children. She and her husband Fred also are Teach For America sponsors and mentors working with the Promise Neighborhoods project.
Liza’s Lifeline Person of the Year is Alyssa Ann Rheingold, Ph.D. She has received numerous federal grants for service and research projects that have resulted in the improvement of resources for homicide survivors, Hispanic interpersonal violence victims and other crime victims in the Lowcountry. She is the director of clinical operations at the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center at MUSC.
All of the honorees were quick to say that each was but one of many doing the same type of work, and all were grateful for the honor.
And although the event was uplifting, with the theme of victims becoming survivors being often repeated, it was also a remembrance for those who were killed by domestic violence. I’ve written many times about how SC is the #2 state in the nation for women killed by men. It’s worth noting that in The South Carolina Silent Witness Story, there were 52 people killed by their partners–39 women and 13 men. Yes, 13 men. I got a phonecall from a man last week who wanted me to know that men are domestic violence victims too. You can see their stories below (Note: This was a publication from the SC AG’s office that Diana Bogart, Zonta president, sent along to me. The page about the Silent Witness event in October 2012 was deleted by me during the posting process.)
These stories were projected on the screen during the program; it was a grim reminder of what we need to change here in SC.
Finally, a special thank you to Diana Bogart for inviting reporter Prentiss Findlay and me to attend Saturday’s event. Our eyes were opened.