Domestic violence is something that people truly don't understand when looking in from the outside. Others, like Meg’s House director Alice Hodges, understand the cycle all too well.
“You hang on to the success stories,” Hodges said of her work with victims of domestic violence. “You use those to stay positive. The staff here has to always have a positive attitude for the residents.”
Domestic violence is a big issue in South Carolina. It was recently revealed that the state is second in the nation, behind only Nevada, in the number of women murdered by men. That news comes as we enter Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In 2012, Meg’s House has already received more than 1,000 calls to their crisis line and served more than 200 people.
The most common question asked about victims of domestic violence is, “Why doesn’t she just leave?” Hodges has an answer.
“That question is totally irrelevant,” Hodges said. “These women are at more of a risk when they do leave. Their partners tell them that they will hunt them down and kill them if they leave. And it happens enough to keep the woman scared.”
Hodges explained it another way as well. “Ask anyone who is married if they would leave their spouse if they slapped them one time,” Hodges said. “The answer is no. That’s their spouse. They love them. It takes about eight incidents on average for the abused spouse or partner to leave.”
When they do decide to leave, Meg’s House is there to help. The nonprofit organization provides emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence. People are referred to Meg’s House through various channels including police protocol, their 24-hour crisis line, other social services agencies and even employers of the victims.
DomesticViolenceStatistics.org says that domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs. That lost time adds up to more than $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.
While women and their children are at Meg’s House they receive a variety of services geared toward helping them rejoin society as self-sufficient women. Residents can stay at the house for 60 days. During that time, they receive free counseling, attend group meetings, develop an individual action plan and receive job-finding assistance.
After their 60 days are completed, residents who have a job can move to the transitional house and remain there up to 18 months. Hodges said that Meg’s House has a number of partnerships with local businesses that help place residents in matching jobs.
Meg’s House is funded through federal and state grants along with, most importantly, donations from the community. “Without the wonderful people and businesses in Greenwood, we wouldn’t be here,” Hodges said.
The Meg’s House 24-hour crisis line number is 800-447-7992. You can also call the house directly 24/7 at (864) 227-1890 or their satellite office at the United Center for Community Care at (864) 229-8141.