FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – MAY 1, 2023
Contact Persons: Brenda Miller (SCVAN) – firstname.lastname@example.org / 803.904.0912 Megan Finnern (SCCADVASA) – email@example.com / 989.798.6905 Leading South Carolina Victims’ Rights Organizations Host 2nd Annual Victims Matter Rally at S.C. State House
#VictimsMatter #SCSaysNoMore #StandWithSurvivors
Columbia, South Carolina – On Tuesday, May 9th, the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network (SCVAN), the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SCCADVASA), elected officials, community partners, victims of crime, and their families and friends will rally at the South Carolina State House to raise awareness about the barriers faced by victims of violent crime throughout the Palmetto State.
Initially spurred by the Bowen Turner rape cases out of Orangeburg which gained national attention in 2022, organizers felt it important to continue this rally as an annual event to advocate for all victims of violent crime.
“Despite having its own “Victims Bill of Rights” in the state constitution, South Carolina continues to fail these victims both in finding justice and in the ability to easily access the help and services they need,” said Sarah Ford, the Legal Director of SCVAN. “Laws don’t mean anything for crime victims unless they are consistently asserted and enforced. It is critical that victims know their rights and are aware of organizations, like ours, who can help in the aftermath of violent crime.”
Individuals will gather for the second annual Victims Matter Rally beginning at 9:00 AM on Tuesday, May 9, on the south steps of the South Carolina State House (facing Gervais Street).
A short program, beginning at 9:30 AM will include speakers from advocacy organizations, elected officials, and victims including Delores Boyce, Karl Stoller, Sandy Smith, Mandy Matney, Rep. Brandon Guffey, Rep. Heather Bauer, Sarah Ford (SCVAN), and Shannon Nix (SCCADVASA). We encourage family members, victim service providers, and other interested community members to join to center and elevate victims’ voices.
At 10:30 AM, we ask all rally participants to join us in lobbying members of the South Carolina General Assembly to place more attention and motivate action in regard to how these crimes are handled by the criminal justice system. To change South Carolina’s terrible legacy of violence, we must prioritize a more trauma-informed and victim-centered approach.
“As many victims of domestic violence and sexual assault come to realize firsthand, the criminal legal system often fails victims and survivors of violence,” said Sara Barber, executive director of SCCADVASA. “This rally serves to amplify the need for tangible change. Investment of time and resources in training, traumainformed processes and the development of alternative approaches including restorative justice are essential in supporting victims as they seek healing and justice.
Please visit www.scvanlegal.org for additional information and follow @SCVANLegal on social media to learn about this and other upcoming events. Additionally, learn more about SCCADVASA, its member programs, and how to get involved by following @sccadvasa on social media or by visiting www.sccadvasa.org.
The South Carolina Victim Assistance Network (SCVAN) serves as a voice for all victims of crime and those who serve them. It was created in 1985 in response to a mandate in the S.C. Crime Victims Bill of Rights for a network of service providers to be formed to better protect and serve victims of crime. For thirty years, SCVAN has been the “go to” agency as the voice of victims of crime and a resource for the providers who serve them.
SCVAN is comprised of five programs: Financial Relief for Victims Program provides direct emergency and transitional housing assistance and information to victims; The Crime Victim Information Services System (CVISS) provides a research, resource and referrals to crime victims and service providers state-wide; Legal Services Program provides holistic legal assistance to crime victims; Faith-based Victim Service Program to develop resources that will assist crime victims and their families in South Carolina in partnership with faith communities, and the Statewide Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE) Program provides coordination and support to existing and developing FNE programs in our state; building alliances with service providers to promote victim-oriented medical response and treatment of sexual assault victims. SCVAN also sponsors South Carolina’s annual Victims’ Rights Week Conference.
The South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SCCADVASA) serves as the collective voice promoting the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault in South Carolina. Its vision is a South Carolina free from domestic violence and sexual assault. The statewide coalition is made up of the 22 sexual assault and domestic violence direct service and advocacy programs in South Carolina and other allied organizations. Established in 1981, SCCADVASA is a leader in representing the critical needs of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and is a pivotal voice in violence prevention.