Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, revealed during a news conference Monday that she was physically abused by a babysitter as a child, stressing there is a looming threat of abuse for every community and outlining steps for how the state should respond.
“It doesn’t matter your background, it doesn’t matter your education, it doesn’t matter the wealth of your family,” Haley said. “Every child is subject to child abuse.”
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Haley gave the world a rare glimpse of her personal life as state officials discussed the findings of the report "Silent Tears" at the Greenville Health System that outlined a series of recommendations to improve the state’s response to child abuse. The report was the result of a comprehensive review by the National Child Protection Training Center of child sex abuse in South Carolina, according to the Greenville News.
Haley's mother, who worked full time, asked a couple living next door to take care of Haley when she was a child.
“I never wanted to go,” Haley said. “But she didn’t know quite what it was and didn’t think anything of it. One day I came home and I had a lot of bruises and a lot of issues."
Haley said during the news conference that the couple "packed up and left," when her mother confronted them about her injuries.
"We never got to deal with it," Haley said.
Haley used the story to punctuate the point that child abuse can happen to children from any walk of life and parents may not have the information they need to respond to it.
"When it happened to me, my parents didn’t know what to do," Haley said. "They didn’t know who to go to. No one knew how to handle it."
The state's "Silent Tears" report recommended improving systems the state has in place, improving training for college students studying the field, improving evidence collection, and resolving child abuse cases more quickly, according to Politico.
South Carolina House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister told the Greenville News that he and state senator Mike Fair will file a bill that will address many of the concerns raised in the report.
Haley had previously detailed her harrowing childhood experiences in her book "Can't Is Not An Option: My American Story," which came out last year.
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