TRI-COUNTY S.P.E.A.K.S. Appoints Executive Director and Celebrates 50 Years

February 9, 2024

CHARLESTON, SC – Tri-County S.P.E.A.K.S. (Sexual Violence Prevention, Education, Advocacy, Knowledge and Services) is pleased to announce Deborah Freel, MSW, as its new Executive Director following a nationwide search. TCS (formerly known as People Against Rape), South Carolina’s first and oldest sexual violence assistance center, is also celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Freel has 25 years of experience in the Charleston Tri-County area in nonprofit, medical and higher education settings in direct service and leadership roles, most recently as the Program Director for the South Carolina Justice Navigators Network, where she was responsible for leading and implementing all aspects of an innovative access to justice training initiative for social service providers in the Tri-County area. Freel gained extensive experience in sexual assault victim advocacy from her previous work with MUSC’s National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center and two sexual assault survivor support organizations in Maryland. She has served on numerous organizational boards, including the Unitarian Church in Charleston, Charleston County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Council and the South Carolina Association for Higher Education and Disability.

TCS was founded in 1974 to assist survivors of sexual assault by providing counseling and support to survivors, and education to the public regarding the crisis of sexual assault. The effort was the result of a group of concerned citizens who formed a committee to investigate the impact of sexual assault in Charleston, SC. From the work of this committee, new services became available to sexual assault survivors in and around Charleston, including crisis counseling, hospital accompaniment for forensic exams, a 24/7 hotline, support groups and educational training on sexual assault prevalence and prevention.

TCS demonstrates dynamic leadership advocating for victims of sexual assault in the Charleston metropolitan area. Over the past five decades, thousands of survivors have been served through the 24/7 hotline, hundreds of individuals have been trained in the prevention of sexual assault, and countless survivors have been given valuable resources in their time of need.

In its 50th year of service, Director Freel and the Tri-County S.P.E.A.K.S staff are committed to continuing its legacy of providing services to those who suffer from the epidemic of sexual violence. “For fifty years, TCS has been there at all hours to hold someone’s hand following the indescribable trauma of sexual assault. TCS educates our community to prevent sexual violence and advocates for community policies and practices that center the needs of survivors.

This public service impacts the world far beyond our Tri-County,” said Freel.

“I’m honored and very grateful to the TCS Board of Directors for the opportunity to lead this exceptional organization of committed advocates to support sexual assault survivors.”

TCS seeks to support survivors and their family members, create meaningful programs that cultivate resiliency, and foster crucial collaboration with community members who want to help support survivors.