COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - In this season of giving, one Midlands domestic violence survivor is asking the community not to forget about the men and women who are forced to flee their homes because of abuse.
While there are resources available to domestic violence survivors here in the Midlands including Sistercare and the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, these are groups you can add to the list of so many others simply not seeing as much support this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Alma Brown tells WIS-TV that she’s a domestic violence survivor after recently leaving a controlling and abusive relationship. Brown says it’s something she also watched her mother go through as a young girl, and believes her mother stayed in order to keep a roof over their heads. Now that she’s a mother, Brown says she’s found herself in a similar situation. Because she says her abuser was the main provider, she says this made it even more difficult to leave.
“Anybody can be in my situation. A lot of people are in my situation but they’re scared. They’re scared to uproot their family being that COVID’s going on. A lot of women, like me, would put up with a situation in order for our children to have a roof over their heads,” said Brown.
She says her wish for the holiday season is “for people to actually give to the children in this program. It’s not about us mothers, but I just want the community – it seems like we’re so close, but yet we’re so far. We’re so distant. I see all this funding and everything going on but what about the kids that are going through this transition?”
Some of the available support programs offer temporary housing for 30 days to help survivors get back on their feet.
Brown is temporarily being housed in a hotel where she says she’s seen some women come in with just the clothes on their backs after having to leave home abruptly. She says it’s the children who often suffer the most under these circumstances.
“There’s a small refrigerator here. There’s a little microwave here, but kids don’t want microwaved food. It’s only but so much you can buy to keep everything stocked up,” said Brown while adding that, “The hotel is kind of shut down. So, their laundry room and everything is shut down. So, I have to commute all of that.”
Brown said there’s only so much support groups can do and even some of those resources are dwindling amid the pandemic.
“There’s nothing here for the kids here to do. The kids run around in the parking lot. There’re no job workshops. They have to use this one little computer in the hotel to find jobs. A lot of women come in unemployed. Some women never worked. Their husbands always provided for them. So, having to start over on these terms have been very difficult for a lot of us,” said Brown.
According to Brown, some women often just end up returning to their abusers because of the challenges that come with starting over and, again, especially during a pandemic. She says the most needed items right now are winter coats for children and food.
A representative with Sistercare says their greatest need right now are gift cards from places like Target, Walmart or VISA.