‘Don’t go through this alone’: How state law protects domestic violence survivors

State law protects domestic violence survivors
Holding her abuser accountable is something one domestic violence survivor says is important for not just herself, but for all women across the Lowcountry.
Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 4:55 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 11, 2023 at 6:46 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Holding her abuser accountable is something one domestic violence survivor says is important for not just herself, but for all women across the Lowcountry.

Reneah Jones of North Charleston says three of her family members have lost their lives to domestic violence. For the last five years, it is hit a little too close to home in her own relationship.

“Point where he put a gun to my head,” Jones said. “Trying to run me off the road... Down to the point where I had a concussion from incidents. I lost a child.”

In South Carolina law, domestic violence can apply to a spouse, former spouse, someone who you have children in common with or someone you live with. In Jones’ situation, her abuser was charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature because they did not live together and were not married.

“He is being charged with assault and battery, in a way, kind of separates the sting of domestic violence and that’s a huge difference,” Jones said. “I feel as though the assault is just on the individual, but not a significant other.”

According to the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network, which works for and with victims of any criminal violence to make sure their rights are protected, victims have the right to ask for a no-contact order or domestic violence order of protection against their abuser.

“In domestic violence, there tends to be more support for those victims,” Sarah A. Ford, legal director for the network, said. “But I think it’s important for us to look whether law enforcement is investigating something to determine whether it is something that will qualify under the domestic violence statutes or not.”

Jones’ abuser also has a criminal history with the most recent charge being unlawful carrying of a weapon just two months before she went to the police. Ford describes this as a red flag.

“Absolutely,” Ford said. “We know that any time there are guns involved, the percentages of there being further violence in that home or with that individual skyrocket.”

The South Carolina Victim Assistance Network encourages victims to find resources, like domestic violence support groups and reach out to hotlines for more immediate help.

“Just knowing where to turn when you are in an emergency situation is really key,” Ford said.

Even though Jones says she lives with trauma every day, she’s grateful she got the courage to leave the relationship back in February after seeing how it impacted her kids.

“Don’t go through this alone,” Ford said. “Do not go through this alone.”

Jones says she hopes more women and men across the Lowcountry can be inspired to come forward.

“It was, of course, a five-year relationship,” Jones said. “So, there’s so much history. But, again, I’m worth more than history.”

Jones says she has a permanent restraining order against her former partner, and he is currently out on probation. She says if he gets in trouble again, he could face jail time.

To learn more about the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network, visit their website for additional resources and help hotlines.