STSM Board Member Responds to Veto 51

As a South Carolina resident, public health professional, and rape survivor, I am outraged by Veto 51.

Governor Haley has taken the stance that sexual assault is not a public health problem that needs to be addressed, and that funding to 15 rape crisis centers throughout the state amounts to special interest spending.

Does she know that last year alone, over 5,000 rape victims received direct services that helped them move on with their lives in healthy and dignified ways? Does she know that over 50,000 youth and community members received information and education that aims to prevent sexual violence? And does she know that since 2009, this work has been done with fewer and fewer state dollars? 

Sexual violence affects all of us. It has an impact on our personal lives, our mental, physical and spiritual health, on our families and communities. 

Those working to ensure that sexual violence will not be tolerated, will not destroy people’s lives, and will not continue should be honored and recognized – not threatened by budget cuts that would effectively close the doors to many services.

  Dr. Deborah Billings is an Assistant Professor in the Arnold School of Public Health and the Women's and Gender Studies Program at the University of South Carolina. She joined the Board of Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands in 2010.