D. C. Moody
WALHALLA — Victims of domestic violence often are left with nowhere to turn and the prospects of a shelter in Oconee County were dim for many years until plans to open Safe Harbor were announced.
In the past victims of domestic abuse were forced to leave the county for a safe place to sleep at night, but this news means things are changing in many ways, according to Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw.
“Our folks are no longer going to be transporting victims to Greenville or to Anderson, we will have a local shelter here,” said Crenshaw. “It allows us to have greater interaction so we can follow up. Some many times in the past a victim goes to Greenville and it may be a week before we can coordinate an interview to get the sworn statement and evidence we need to go forward with a prosecution, so it will aid us in prosecution.”
At a press conference held Friday in Walhalla, Safe Harbor officials announced the funds were in place to begin construction on the facility whose use will be designated for the Oconee area. The benefits of having this resource available are important for the community according to Crenshaw, with opportunities to provide victims unprecedented protection in Oconee County.
“It will give us an opportunity to provide a greater level of security for the victim,” the sheriff said. “We are going to be asking for ankle monitoring for any offender whose victim is at the shelter, giving them peace of mind that this place is truly a safe place to stay.”
Oconee deputies already request ankle monitoring in drug cases but will now be free to do the same where the threat of violence is present.
For as much work as went into putting the campaign to make a domestic violence shelter a reality, Crenshaw credited the community as a big part in the successes to this point.
“March of 2013 we needed $990,000 and I am committed to it because we need this shelter in place for out county,” he said. “Once we got to talking about it, people opened their hearts and they did it because they care.”
In all the capital campaign raised $1.1 million for the purchase of the shelter itself with the remainder of the funds going toward three years of operating costs.