If you don’t know the story – last week Governor Nikki Haley (R-SC) vetoed nearly $500,000 for rape crisis centers and other assistance meant to help victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. You can read about that HERE. I really hate to use the word victim because that somehow implies that their aggressors have gotten the best of them; I don’t know if I have a good word to describe those on the receiving end of such violence.
I have a few thoughts around this before you read the letter …
Unfortunately – Governor Haley isn’t the only “conservative” to oppose funding to protect it took a very long time for Republicans in the Senate to support giving federal assistance for such uses of taxpayer money. And even with an obvious slam dunk in terms of protecting your constituents – 31 Republicans still voted against “The Violence Against Women Act” in the Senate (source).
Well – one of our readers at IACWE read the story about Governor Nikki Haley’s decision to cut funding to protect victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. She asked if we would share her letter to Governor Haley with the readers at IACWE … and I can’t think of anything more personal. So – I’ll let Brooke tell you in her own words …
Dear Governor Haley,
I’m not writing you on any particular authority. I don’t even live in your state. However, I am a rape survivor that has recently dealt with the utter nightmare of being raped during a recession. I know firsthand the reality of law enforcement budgets being too strapped to test a rape kit in a timely manner. I know what it is like to feel alone and to have my case fall through the cracks. I felt the shock of encountering my rapist living as a free man at a local restaurant. My saving grace was a rape crisis center to help me deal with the ugly reality of being a forgotten number. I’m just a girl who has been through it. My heart simply broke for the rape and sexual assault survivors in South Carolina yesterday.
By cutting vital funds to rape crisis centers, you are reiterating the message that rape survivors feel daily, that we don’t matter to lawmakers. Moreover, you have given a huge amount of armor and arsenal to rapists. You have declared, as a powerful woman who runs the state, that you are not concerned with making the necessary efforts to support victims in navigating the legal system. You have dismissed support that helps survivors put their assailants behind bars.
Rapists do not rape in isolation. They continue to. You are a mother. Don’t you want to know that your children are living in a state that is a tiny bit safer because people can safely come forward and hopefully put assailants behind bars?
I am shocked that you would be so cavalier and label it a “distraction.” This is a public health issue, a very real and serious one. The money you cut should have been seen as an investment in public health rather than a burden. It is very hard to put a rapist behind bars, and the only person that even has the possibility to do that is the victim. However this is only feasible if they have the strength enough to come forward and receive support during the legal process. Rape crisis centers help enormously with that. Therefore those funds that you cut are actually crucial.
Unprosecuted rapists become rapists at large who continue to harm and terrorize the local population. By dismissing sexual assault victims as a small section of the state, you are making a horrific decision. You must reconsider your veto or the House must override this shortsighted and ill-informed decision as soon as possible.
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