10 years later son remembers family lost to domestic violence

10 years later son remembers family lost to domestic violence
Rainey's mother and siblings who were killed 10 years ago (Source: Christan Rainey)
Rainey's mother and siblings who were killed 10 years ago (Source: Christan Rainey)

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Friday marks 10 years since a North Charleston mother and four of her children died as a result of domestic violence.

The man accused of killing them has been confined indefinitely in a state mental hospital.

Since then, the only surviving member of the immediate family has been on a mission to save lives.

"We can honestly say we took the worst thing that could happen to us, and made it into something that could change the world," said Christan Rainey.

Rainey was away at college when his mother, Detra Rainey (39), brothers, William Rainey (16), Hakiem Rainey (13), Malachi Robinson (8), and sister Samenia Robinson (6), were killed in their North Charleston home.

Now he's a North Charleston firefighters, and founder of a non-profit organization geared at stopping domestic violence.

"My only mission in life is to continue to save lives," he said. "Whether it's on my job or through M.A.D. USA, my only mission is to save lives, because I can't bring back the five lives that I've lost. The only way I feel like I can honor them is to save someone's life, and save a family from going through what I've gone through."

It hasn't been easy. Rainey said there have been both good days and bad days.

"Ten years is a long time for some people," he said. "But for me it feels like it's only been ten weeks, ten days. Of course there are things that remind me [of them], Mother's Day, of course the anniversary that's coming up, their birthdays. Just plans I would like to spend with them."

While the memories of his mother, and four brothers and sister are never far from his mind, he's now focused on making a difference in people's lives in two very distinct ways.

"I approach it just like I approach a fire," he said. "I'm there to put out a fire and save a life, or save a life and put out the fire. It's the same thing with domestic violence… victims need help and they need it right there and right then."

Rainey created the non-profit called M.A.D. USA, standing for Men Against Domestic Violence.

He's raising awareness about the issue that has plagued our state for years.

"It's something that turns me," he said. "At times it's discouraging, and at times it makes me want to fight even harder."

Fighting for new laws, education, and more resources for those in need.

More programs that are going to help victims, not just 9-5, but after businesses are closed domestic violence is still going on," he added. "We just have to pump our resources into programs like that."

Rainey said a lot has changed in the last 10 years, one of those highlights becoming a North Charleston firefighter.

Through all of the changes though, he has never forgotten his family, or the special memory box he got from his younger sibling's elementary school right after the tragedy.

A box he still hasn't opened.

"I'm excited but I'm scared at the same time," he said. "I've always moved it with me, looked at it and said one day I'm going to open it."

That time may be soon. With the anniversary on Friday and a community event set for Saturday, Rainey said it would be a timely way of starting a new chapter in his journey.

Saturday a domestic violence awareness event will be held at the Walmart on Centre Pointe Drive in North Charleston from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It's free and open to the public.

South Carolina lawmakers, and local leaders will be in attendance for the event.

They will also discuss the issue of domestic violence in the state.

Last week a new study released showed South Carolina ranks fifth in the nation on the rate of women murdered by men in 2014.

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