Lack of safe housing often sends abuse victims back to abusers

Children's Recovery Center in Myrtle Beach. (News13's Taylor Herlong)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Domestic violence and child abuse groups in Horry County say right now there is no place for families to stay, and that often puts victims of abuse back at home with their abuser.

Leaders of the Children’s Recovery Center in Myrtle Beach, along with the Horry County Police Department, say small counseling buildings are available for families for short periods during the day, but there are no facilities for families to stay overnight.

Police say the growing number of abuse cases speaks to the need of a facility for victims to stay overnight.

The Children’s Recover Center is a place where kids can speak with a counselor, see a doctor, and escape from an abusive home. Sadly, director Louise Carson says the center is busier than ever.

“We see over 300 children every year,” says Carson. “The referrals just keep coming in.”

The Children’s Recovery Center looks more like a play center upon walking in. There are clowns, flowers, and balloons painted on the walls. Toy chests, doll houses, and books are tucked away in nearly every corner, and a big, brown comfy couch lines the wall of the entry room. Then of course, there’s Roxie.

“This is Roxie, our therapy dog,” smiles Carson.

Carson and Roxie keep their doors open for all kids who face abuse.

Carson works closely with the county’s Family Justice Center on domestic violence cases, but neither of them have a shelter in Horry County where victims can stay.

“Even if we send the families to the Family Justice Center here in Horry County, the only shelter that’s available is in Georgetown,” explains Carson.

If there’s nowhere to take the victims, they often go back to their abuser.

“In time, whether it’s a week, a month, or three months down the road, the situation pretty much happens again,” confirms Veronica Akong, counselor for Family Justice Center.

It’s a problem victim’s advocates with the Horry County Police say they see far too often.

“We’ll have victims and they’re like, ‘why even report it because now I have to move, I have to go somewhere,’ and now they feel like they’re the burden now, and they’re not,” voices Horry County Police Victim’s Advocate Erica Vasquez. “You know, we’re trying to get them to the safest place possible where they can live life comfortably, peacefully, and not having a safe house here or any kind of center to have them or their children stay in the time being, you know, it’s an obstacle for them.”

Vazquez says she’s been talking with the Family Justice Center about the need for a safe house where victims can stay as long as they need, but right now, they don’t have a building or the money to pay staff.

“It’s a lot of the grant issues, you know, there’s a lot of other agencies that are getting grant funded, but when it comes to them applying for these grants, they’re limited,” says Vazquez. “They don’t have as much money coming in so they can’t have the staff of, you know, ten people to, you know, run a safe house.”

These nonprofit agencies are supported by grants and donations. Right now, they’re looking for an opportunity where a building or home could be donated to give abuse victims a safe place to live.

Those wishing to help the Children’s Recover Center, or victims of abuse, can contact:

  • Children’s Recovery Center at 843-448-3400 or childrensrecoverycenter.org
  • Family Justice Center Case Case Manager Rebecca Keay at rkeay@fjcgtownhorry.org
  • Horry County Police Victim’s Advocate Office at 843-915-8069