“WHY DON’T THEY JUST LEAVE? (Asked the legislator, the police, the neighbor, the passive observer etc…)

The Sabel (Cabbage) Palmetto Tree of South Carolina – 


They are remarkably hardy, resistant to fire, floods, coastal conditions, cold, high winds and drought. Sabal palmettos are very cold-hardy and able to survive relatively short periods of temperatures as low as 7 °F –(13 °C)  and occasionally much lower. Maintenance of the Cabbage Palm tree is very easy and very adaptable. This palm is known to tolerate drought, standing water and brackish water. Even though this palm is drought-tolerant, it thrives on regular light watering and regular feeding. It is highly tolerant of salt winds, but not saltwater flooding.

Under such hardy palms swaying in the breeze, lives a state, the State of South Carolina under siege with the highest homicide rate against women in the country, for the third time in ten years!   Many of these victims have come through a personal siege of their own, of which intimate partner violence is a very real component.  They have had to be hardy, adaptable and tolerate extremes…just like the mighty Sabel palm. Who is there to offer a safety net?  Enter Elmire Raven, M.A. (pronounced El-meer), Executive Director of My Sister’s House in North Charleston, South Carolina!

The primary reasons given by victims for remaining or returning to their abusive relationships generally fall within a few categories.   According to Raven, a seasoned professional who has lived and worked in the trenches with the victims of intimate partner violence for 25 years, the heart of the matter can be distilled to the following justifications. (I commented regarding each category below.)   Keep in mind, that generalities can be dangerous, as every person; every case has its complexities. However, these truths continue to bind victims to their abusers just the same.

  • Love – is blind- When we’re in it, we see what we want to see…
  • Paternity – is a biological fact of life, but it has noting to do with morality;
  • Potential Homelessness – keeps us down and out and nowhere to rest our weary mind;
  • No Transportation– No wheels or anyone to provide those wheels forces us to remain a “prisoner of our current circumstances;”
  • No Financial Resources– If a woman has no money to sustain her plan of escape; it cannot proceed, as basic financial resources and a way to continue a cash flow is vital to independence.

Why is it that legislators, police, neighbors and others believe that it is a simple matter of “just leaving?”   The truth is, they do not understand the dynamics, the clever manipulations and keen observations of the abuser and the power they have over the victim; what information, threats they use to “keep the woman in line.” In the mind of the victim, the perpetrator’s threats are  worse than her current situation.  And so, frequently, she is resigned to “go along to get along,” taking the abuse, injuries and terror in stride, devoid of dignity, living a surreal numbing existence.

One tool in the “Domestic Violence toolbox” being circulated nationally in honor of the years of effort by the late Susan Murphy Milano, is the prevention tool known as the EAA -Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit which is a component of her revolutionary Document the Abuse program.

My Sister's House, Elmire Raven, Shattered Lives RadioAlthough South Carolina has consistently been in the “top ten” of intimate partner homicides, the tri-county area which My Sister’s House serves has recently seen a decrease in the numbers within their area. The most significant reason is the unity of organizations, the pooling of resources, and working together for the common goal, helping victims.  They have also taken on the added responsibility of providing temporary resources for survivors of human trafficking, a growing population with unique requirements, and different from those of domestic violence.

Shattered Lives Radio had the pleasure of examining the issues surrounding intimate partner violence in South Carolina and universally.

Join us for the interview with Elmire Raven. Below are selected written highlights of the show.

 Listen to Shattered Lives Radio

  • Introduction to our guest
  • The evolution of domestic violence –IPV programs in the South and what they offer now
  • Ranking of Number one in homicides against women- Why?
  • Guns, legislation and what a perpetrator is charged with….OR NOT!
  • The Key- Community support and involvement
  • Discussion of housing, transportation  and the trips to court
  • No tools in order to leave…..
  • The victim – Making a decision; What’s involved? 35% -5 to 7 times…..
  • Do they ever turn people away?
  • A discussion of “to report or not to report”
  • Opportunities for cutting edge collaborations with Human Trafficking and HIV initiatives:
  • http://www.healingspecies.org/programs
  • http://www.communitywelcomehouse.org/bright-horizons/
  • Human Trafficking victims – A very complex issue!
  • Building a new facility in the future!
  • Donation & Contact Information: www.mysistershouse.org
  • Administrative Line: 843-747-4069;
  • 24 Hour Hotline:   843-744-3242  In -State
  • 1-800-273 –HOPE  Nationwide-24/7

Questions for the Listening Audience:

  • What’s the significance of these numbers in the discussion– 36, 85?
  • In Elmire’s opinion, what is the biggest influence on the number of homicides in South Carolina?
  • Criminal Domestic Violence Coordinating Council – What’s it all about?
  • Is the faith-based community part of  the answer?  Why-Why-not?
  • What are the components of their volunteer program?
  • What is the main reason why women return to their abusers?
  • How is enabling a factor and reasons for returning to the shelter?
  • How to we sort out “getting the perpetrator in trouble” versus stopping the abuse?
  • What is the average stay for residents at My Sister’s House?
  • Is there a central place in Southeastern South Carolina for those who are trafficked?
  • What can be done in rural areas?
  • What influences  came to play in Elmire’s success with My Sister’s House?
  • What was Elmire’s parting comment re debunking the greatest myth?

The comments expressed on this website or on the broadcasts of Shattered Lives do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of the hosts, producers, or other guests.


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