Pee Dee Coalition “Breaking Free” event launches Domestic Violence Awareness Month

FLORENCE, SC – Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault hosts the 4th Annual Breaking Free 5K/15K Walk/Run to launch Domestic Violence Awareness Month on Saturday October 1st.  Registration for this USATF/RRTC certified event begins at 8 am at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1021 South Ebenezer Road in Florence.

This event raises critical funds for the Pee Dee Coalition safe shelter for women and children. Since the shelter opened in 1989, the Coalition has provided more than 138,000 nights of emergency safe lodging and services to more than 6,800 women and children.

A lot of fear goes into a victim’s decision to “break free” from an abusive environment or relationship. Pee Dee Coalition shelter offers hope and healing.  “When I arrived at the shelter, everyone greeted me and my children with such love and acceptance.  I felt a sense of safety and freedom for the first time in my life.  My experience showed me that there was hope – for me and my children,” says one former shelter resident – a mother of five.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) evolved from the “Day of Unity” conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and first held in October 1981. The intent was to connect advocates nationwide who were working to end violence against women and their children. Today, advocates to end domestic violence recognize that everyone knows someone who has dealt with interpersonal violence. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: on average in the United States, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. That is more than 10 million women and men each year.  Throughout their lifetime, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience some form of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner.

The Violence Policy Center recently released its annual report “When Men Murder Women”.  Based on statistics from 2014, South Carolina is currently ranked number 5 in the nation, dropping from number 1 the previous year.  This report has been produced for the past 19 years and our state has always ranked in the top ten nationwide for the homicide of women by men.  Unfortunately domestic violence is more than physical or sexual abuse.  As a systematic pattern of power and control, perpetrators often also inflict emotional, psychological, spiritual or financial harm on their victims. Pee Dee Coalition also recognizes the opportunity for those who cause domestic violence and want to break free from these patterns by offering the Alternatives to Violence (ATV) offender re-education program.  Information on ATV is available by calling 843-673-2008.

Pee Dee Coalition, supported in part by the United Way was established in 1986 and operates the only 24-hour crisis line for victims and their families in the service area that includes Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Marion, Marlboro and Williamsburg Counties.  For immediate assistance anywhere in the region call the toll-free crisis line at 1-800-273-1820.

Runners, walkers and volunteers can join Breaking Free on Saturday October 1st at 8 am at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1021 South Ebenezer Road in Florence.