Community bands against domestic violence

Oconeeans and others brought their hearts and minds to a Seneca meeting last night to take on the problem violence in the home place. About 80 people gathered in the United Way conference room for an audience participatory meeting that ran nearly two hours. Sheriff Mike Crenshaw and Safe Harbor Executive Director Becky Callaham started the meeting with declarations about how law enforcement and social services are responding to a problem that, in recent months across Oconee, has been deadly. The audience drew silent and attentive as Crenshaw disclosed details about how Oconee’s most recent fatality from domestic violence was shot in her home, tried to leave the home to drive away only to be shot again. “We’ve got to make domestic violence a community effort,” he said. Crenshaw introduced his department’s domestic violence investigator, one of the department’s crime victim advocates, and the department’s chaplain. The sheriff says he believes there need to be changes in the laws. Safe Harbor’s Becky Callaham said her organization stands ready to build a shelter in Oconee County, but needs $990 thousand. Safe Harbor operates shelters in Anderson and Greenville, but they are not sufficient to serve Oconee County. Callaham related the ordeal of a Seneca woman who was abused by her husband, yet wound up losing custody of her young son. At first, the “systems”, as Callaham described them, did not work for this woman. But through perserverance and eventual help from law enforcement the woman eventually regained custody of her child and rid herself of her abusive husband. The story was just one of a number of accounts related during last night’s meeting.