Domestic violence survivor hopeful after Attorney General's call for tougher laws

Domestic violence survivor hopeful after Attorney General's call for tougher laws

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - For Elmire Raven, today is personal.

For more than 20 years, as Executive Director for My Sister's House, Raven counseled and consoled women abused by their boyfriends and husbands.

My Sister's House, a non-profit organization founded in 1980, offers female domestic violence victims, and their children, temporary shelter, along with food, clothes, transportation, and other resources.

Raven, while responded to news of State Attorney General Alan Wilson's "Call to Action," said, "Okay, we're finally doing something."

Tuesday, Wilson joined by police chiefs, solicitors, and advocacy groups statewide, stood on State House grounds, urging the General Assembly to pass tougher domestic violence laws by the end of the year.

Supporters began the call at 11:30 Tuesday morning, only a half an hour before the new legislative session began at Noon.

Under current law, offenders are prosecuted based on the number of offenses.  Wilson, with the support of Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen, suggests a tiered system, matching the penalty with the nature of the crime.

"It's taken so many years for our state to really take the issue of domestic violence seriously, even though we're ranked in the top ten in the nation for the past 17 years," Raven added.

According to statistics provided by the State Attorney General's office, South Carolina is currently second in the nation for the number of women killed by men.  In 2013, the state ranked number one nationally.

"How many women have to be killed before we realize that punishment is what's going to really make a difference," said Elmire Raven.

Today she sat overwhelmed with emotion for all the women who've been victims, a list that includes Raven herself.

She says an ex-boyfriend, while accusing her of being unfaithful, attacked her so severely, she was hospitalized for a week, and required nine x-rays on her face.

Raven says she was never notified of her attacker's release from jail, nor his court date.

His charges were dropped.

While she says she's excited to finally see a hint of change, until that day comes she'll continue to offer solace to other women faced with domestic abuse.

"We continue every day, my staff and I to do what we can to empower women."

My Sister's House offers a 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-273-HOPE.

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