Press Statement in Response to Governor Haley's Veto of Funding for Rape Crisis Centers
For Immediate Release
July 6, 2012
Statement in Response to Governor Haley's Veto of Funding for Rape Crisis Centers
The South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SCCADVASA) is alarmed by Governor Haley's decision to slash funding for sexual assault services and prevention. Veto 51 eliminates the $453,000 in the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) budget for rape crisis centers in South Carolina. These centers serve every county in South Carolina, providing critical services to adult and child victims of sexual assault, as well as prevention education to reduce sexual violence in our state. At least 1 out of every 5 women has been raped in her lifetime, as well as 1 in 3 young girls and 1 in 6 boys being the victims of sexual assault. Sexual assault is a serious crime, with lifelong impacts. It is also, undoubtedly, a public health issue. And with rates of sexual violence far surpassing national numbers, it is also one of the most serious health epidemics facing South Carolinians.
In 2011, the 15 sexual assault programs in South Carolina provided services to over 5,000 victims, over half of which were children. Services include everything from answering a crisis hotline 24 hours a day to accompanying a victim to the hospital for a sexual assault forensic exam and providing ongoing counseling and support. These programs also provided prevention education to over 50,000 students in elementary, middle, high school and college. This education helps prevent sexual violence in South Carolina, before it occurs. This is not only life-saving work, it is also cost-saving work. A recent study conducted in the Lowcountry found that child sexual abuse cost taxpayers $2.7 million per year, in one judicial district alone. Should we not spend $453,000 to prevent these crimes, rather than many times more on treating the devastating effects?
Despite the Governor's assertion that this work distracts from DHEC's overall mission, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has consistently stated that sexual violence is a public health issue. Sexual violence increases the rates of sexually transmitted diseases, eating disorders, teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol usage, depression, and often leads to increased risk of suicide. But, studies have repeatedly shown that having early access to an advocate can drastically reduce these negative impacts. This is why rape crisis centers are crucial in combating the devastating impacts of sexual assault.
If this veto is not overridden, rape crisis centers will lose 37% of their current state funding, which will drastically reduce their ability to respond to victims and provide prevention education. SCCADVASA urges everyone to contact your legislators and ask them to override this veto. We must combat this serious health epidemic facing all South Carolinians, and our children. And to do so, we must support rape crisis centers.