South Carolina consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous states for women. A new report from Able SC, SCCADVASA (the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault) and the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN) reveals the disproportionate impact of sexual and intimate partner violence has on women, transgender people, and people with disabilities.
40% of women in South Carolina experience sexual violence in their lifetimes, this rate is higher than the national average. SCCADVASA reported that sexual assault crisis centers experienced an increase in new clients between 2014 and 2018. Of these clients, Black women were over-represented based on their share of the overall population which suggests they may experience higher rates of victimization.
The main findings of the report show that gender identity, race, and ability play a role in the likelihood that one will experience violence and receive supportive services. With this in mind, advocates and service providers are working together to attend the needs of marginalized populations as rates of violence increase. For example, SCCADVASA and Able SC have partnered together to train staff and make their services accessible given research that indicates people with disabilities experience violent crime at a higher rate.
“Removing barriers to access and inclusion should be a top priority for all service providers in South Carolina, considering that disabled people are more likely to experience violence than their non-disabled peers,” Kimberly Tissot, chief executive officer of Able South Carolina said. “We’ve been working with SCCADVASA to train and provide resources to sexual assault and domestic violence service providers who work with survivors with disabilities, and we’re looking forward to continuing that partnership.”
Sara Barber, Executive Director of the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SCCADVASA) said:
“Our partnership with Able-SC is a critical piece in building equal access to services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence who are also living with a disability—whether that is in the aftermath of a violent assault or when trying to leave an abusive relationship. All survivors should have access to the services they need for healing and safety; our work is to ensure this is possible.”
The Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network, a network of over 40,000 South Carolinians is working to uplift the intersections highlighted in this report. Melissa Moore is the Lowcountry Manager for WREN and an organizer for transgender rights. They said:
“It is important to understand the intersectionality of these issues. When we say South Carolina is a dangerous state for women, we are referring to all women who experience sexual and intimate partner violence, including queer and transgender women. Violence against transgender women, for example, can often go unrecognized by the larger community, especially when they are regularly misgendered in police and media reports. We know that there have been four documented homicides of transgender women since 2018, but this number may not represent the whole, due to the limitations of reporting.”
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