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May 16, 2023
Social Mission: Sistercare
Alarmingly, South Carolina remains one of the top states in the nation for high rates of domestic violence and domestic homicide. However, did you know that according to the US Department of Education and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 young women and 1 in 4 young men between the ages of 14–19 experience physical, emotional, or psychological abuse in their dating relationships? Recognizing the need to be proactive, Sistercare’s long-term and dedicated counseling staff began researching curriculums to address intimate partner violence among youth in our community and to offset the intergenerational cycle of violence prevalent in so many families across South Carolina.
STOP, the acronym for Sistercare’s Teen Outreach Program, was created in 2015 and is making a positive impact in the Midlands. “When speaking to adult survivors of domestic violence, I’m often told they were with that person who committed the act against them since middle or high school. We help teens by providing the tools and knowledge of what healthy relationships really look like,” said Chanta Lawton, one of two specialists leading STOP.
Chanta holds a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling–Mental Health. Sistercare’s other Teen Outreach Specialist, Brandi Jennings, holds a Master of Social Work degree.
“Adolescence can be an experimental time between childhood and young adulthood,” said Brandi. “Providing healthy relationship building tools through the STOP program will hopefully stick with the teens we serve into adulthood. If I could tell a teen one thing it would be, ‘You are worth it.'”
Chanta and Brandi share with teens information on boundaries and “red flags” in a judgement-free zone, and as social media continues to change our landscape, they find down-to-earth ways to connect with them at schools, group homes, and faith-based and civic-organizations.
In 2022, STOP reached 2,834 teens at 227 events in the Midlands. During the height of the pandemic, when many teens were feeling isolated and uncertain about the future, STOP specialists worked tirelessly to continue providing the program virtually—serving 2,232 teens. Sistercare’s commitment to serve local teens through STOP is unwavering, and Sistercare staff remain grateful for the community supporting this important program.
“Love is happy,” Chanta said. “Love is healthy. Love is respect.”
To learn more about Sistercare’s STOP program and other services, available resources, and ways to partner, visit sistercare.org. Be sure to follow their social media platforms for the latest updates: @sistercaresc on Instagram and Twitter and @sistercare on Facebook.