Tuesday 19 February 2019
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Helping Victims Become Survivors Shauw Chin Capps, CEO of Hopeful Horizons

story by Emily Burgess       photos by Susan DeLoach
nding abuse. Changing lives. A simple, yet profound mission statement for Hopeful Horizons, a local non-profit children’s advocacy, domestic violence and rape crisis center. The vital work of Hopeful Horizons has brought much to the Beaufort community and surrounding areas.
Although Hopeful Horizons is only nearing its second birthday, the work has been taking place in the Beaufort area for over 30 years.
Before the birth of Hopeful Horizons in early 2017, the critical work was a collaborative effort of Hope Haven, the local children’s advocacy and rape crisis center, and CODA (Citizens Opposed to Domestic Abuse). The organizations decided they were stronger together and merged to create Hopeful Horizons and expand their impact in the community.
Their website says, “As a united team, the voice of the organization will be amplified throughout the community and increase our ability to advocate for victims and educate the public in order to prevent child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault.”
“It was a very grassroots movement that started what is now Hopeful Horizons,” said Shauw Chin Capps, CEO of Hopeful Horizons.
Around 30 years ago, a local rape survivor, raped in her own home, had no services, organizations or advocates available to help her navigate the trauma or maze of the judicial system in such a case, and vowed that no victim would have to journey through this alone, so she gathered some of her friends and created the rape crisis center.
A group of concerned citizens also came together after realizing that when children are abused in our community, they have to be shipped to Charleston to be assessed, to get the medical review and forensic interview. The problem came when most families never made it there to attain the information to move forward. Although, Charleston is only an hour and a half away, for many families in this situation, the travel was a barrier in getting the help they needed. These citizens helped to create the children’s advocacy task force in our area to provide these services locally and prevent these children and families from falling through the cracks.
“The domestic violence piece of this started with women, who often were familiar with victimization (a lot of times you find that women were sheltering other women, opening their doors to friends who were experiencing domestic violence) and felt the need to have these services here locally and they came together and CODA was born,” said Capps
The combined history of these organizations spans almost 70 years. They not only believe in the importance of advocating for victims, but to also educate the public on the connection between child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault and that we all play a part in ending violence and abuse.
“There needs to be understanding that these three issues are not neatly packaged and separate. They intersect. We see often when there is domestic violence there is child abuse. When there is child abuse there may be sexual assault. When there is sexual assault there is domestic violence,” Capps said.
Hopeful Horizons offers a variety of services to individuals and families in our area facing child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault. The main office is located on Charles Street with an additional location in Bluffton, a soon-to-be location in Okatie, where the solicitors office is opening a victims services center, as well as a 24-hour shelter at an undisclosed location. The organization also serves in outlying rural counties including Colleton, Hampton, Jasper and Allendale.
The children’s advocacy program provides comprehensive forensic interviewing in cases of child abuse. Before Hopeful Horizons, the child would have to be interviewed multiple times by various agencies with interviewers who were not trained to specifically work with children. Now, law enforcement and DSS refer all children to Hopeful Horizons for expert forensic interviewing by one of the on-staff nationally trained forensic interviewers. This creates a win-win situation, where children are only subjected to disclose the information from their trauma once and law enforcement receives all the needed information to move forward.
The organization also employ child abuse medical experts that help in collection of evidence and provide insight on the trauma that took place while also providing treatment to the child. Additionally, they provide counseling through therapists trained in evidence-based trauma and treatment.
Hopeful Horizons has a large 24/7 shelter for single women or women with children who are fleeing domestic violence with no other resources available. The shelter can house up to 24 residents at a time and once approved for shelter, residents have up to 60 days to utilize the shelter while finding a more permanent option. While in the shelter and passed their 60 days, these victims have access to an array of supportive counseling and treatment services as well as support groups where they can find hope and healing by sharing and listening to the experiences and insights with other survivors.
Additional services provided include case management, in which a case manager helps survivors assess their needs, identify goals and help them find useful resources in the community, and legal assistance and victim advocacy provided free of charge by the Hopeful Horizons’ legal department that consists of an attorney, paralegal and court advocate.
Sexual assault services include a 24/7 crisis hotline, as well as 24/7 hospital accompaniment in which Hopeful Horizons has partnered with all local hospitals in four counties (Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, Jasper) to offer face-to-face support to any rape victim who walks in to the emergency department of these hospitals providing emotional support and assisting with reporting the assault to law enforcement.  Legal assistance, counseling and therapy, and support groups are also available to victims of sexual assault.
Hopeful Horizons believes that we can stop violence before it happens. Holding to their core value of collaboration, they have partnered with CAPA (Child Abuse Prevention Association) here in Beaufort, to create primary prevention programs that target the root causes of child abuse and sexual violence. Some of the various programs provided are Men of Strength (MOST) club, Women Inspiring Strength and Empowerment (WISE) club, Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP), as well as additional family-based programs. The mission is to change the cultural norms associated with violence against women and girls by providing these programs to middle, high school and college students in Beaufort and surrounding counties.
In 2017, Hopeful Horizons served close to 2,500 adults and children through their various services at no cost to the individuals or families. Hopeful Horizons receives funding through federal and state grants and the Department of Health, as well as private foundations such as United Way, Community Foundation of the Lowcountry and Coastal Community Foundation. They also receive funds from individual donors and two fundraisers they host throughout the year. Hopeful Horizons also has many volunteer opportunities available for those who are seeking a way to help.
Shauw Chin Capps’ involvement with the organization dates back 15 years to when she served as the executive director of Hope Haven. At the merger of Hope Haven and CODA, Capps became the CEO of Hopeful Horizons and Kristin Dubrowski, who served as the executive director of CODA, took on the role of COO at Hopeful Horizons.
“It came together because both Kristin and I had a high level of trust. It was about doing the work. It wasn’t about positions or titles. We self-selected at the conception of Hopeful Horizons and we both knew that there would only be one CEO and both of us were happy with whoever that would be as long as we got to do what we love which is continuing the mission of this organization,” said Capps.
After close to two years as CEO of Hopeful Horizons, and 15 years of serving the Beaufort community through this work, Capps announced that she is exiting her position on December 31, 2018 as her family is relocating to Atlanta for her husband’s new position as Associate Pastor at Peachtree Baptist Church.
The succession plan has been in the works for over a year, as they hope to seamlessly turn over leadership to Kristin Dubrowski. The robust succession plan also includes the dissolve of the COO position, replacing it with two full-time key positions to ensure the long-term sustainability of the organization, including a Chief Development Officer and a Director of Grants and Program Evaluation, a position that is supported by a grant from the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.
The work of Hopeful Horizons is an asset to the Beaufort community in every way. From helping victims find strength to move forward and equipping them as they go to providing a safe place to heal and working to change the culture of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault in our area.
“We encourage victims to come forward and give them hope that this does not have to define them for the rest of their lives. Help is available and they can heal. Victims heal and become survivors everyday here, which is the best news. Often people say what I do is depressing and I say it’s not; because I get to see victims become survivors everyday. I get to see the healing take place,” said Capps.