Fueled by personal tragedy, Christan Rainey crusades against domestic violence through M.A.D. USA
M.A.D. USA founder Christan Rainey at his “day” job as a captain with the North Charleston Fire Department.
In its ideal state, the home is a haven, a refuge from the worries of the world. But sometimes, what happens within makes it a place more shaped by pain than peace. Christan Rainey is working to change that—and to save as many lives as possible.
Saving lives, after all, is Rainey’s calling. On the clock, he does so as a North Charleston Fire Department captain. And in his personal time, he logs marathon hours at the helm of M.A.D. USA, or Men Against Domestic Violence, the nonprofit advocacy organization he founded five years ago. Sadly, his inspiration lies in tragedy: in 2006, the man married to his mother, Detra, killed her and his four young siblings while Rainey was away at college.
“Just flashing through memories, which is something I do often, makes me think about the fact that there are kids battling the same situations I did growing up—kids who don’t understand what’s going on,” he says.
In addition to school programs, M.A.D. USA works with summer campers—more than 1,000 of them this year alone. Learn more at madusa.org.
M.A.D. USA aims to stem the tide of abuse and violence before it repeats itself in the next generation. Along with community awareness and fundraising efforts, the seven-member staff and volunteers provide proactive education, in the past two years working with some 2,000 children in schools and summer camps in Charleston and Dorchester counties. Elementary-schoolers learn about “Bullying and Power and Control,” while older students take the “Teen Dating and Domestic Violence” course.
“You can’t break the chain at the end. The thing I want to do with kids is break that chain now,” says Rainey, noting that 85 percent of children from a background involving domestic abuse end up being a victim or abuser.
Each year, M.A.D. USA has marked October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month with the Detra Rainey Stop the Violence “Save a Life” rally. Drawing the community to enjoy food and live music, it is slated for October 6 at Sam’s Club in North Charleston.
But the organization is also launching a major initiative with the inaugural A Conversation We’ve Neglected: Unmasking Domestic Violence Conference, taking place October 24 to 26. Held at the College of Charleston’s North Campus, it aims to connect a wide range of advocacy groups, counselors, legislators, students, and healthcare professionals.
Among other topics, Rainey hopes to address what he calls the “triple threat” of opioid addiction, domestic violence, and mental health. “We don’t talk enough about how substance abuse plays into domestic violence, and vice versa,” he explains.
The event wraps with a masquerade gala, where an auction, dinner, and dancing raise funds to help M.A.D. USA “serve as a light in the dark for struggling children,” says Rainey.
Photographs by (Rainey) Sarah Alsati & courtesy of (kids-2) M.A.D. USA