Disturbing numbers are out that show South Carolina is once again the worst state for domestic violence against women.
The numbers are shocking for women killed every year from domestic violence.”Every 18 months, we lose as many people, mostly women, to domestic violence homicide as we did on 9/11,” said Neil Sondov, Compass of Carolina, Senior Therapist. “Think about if we has a 9/11 every 18 months. We would be up in arms.”
The Violence Policy Center says about two women are killed for every 100 thousand people, making our state’s death rate more than twice the national average.
But for two Upstate organizations who help domestic abuse victims they’re sadly not so surprising.
“We always have high numbers. Unfortunately there are always those situations where literally all three of our shelters are full,” Julie Meredith with Safe Harbor Women’s Shelter, said about their services.
“Really domestic violence is an act of domestic terrorism,” said Sondov.
Therapist Neil Sondov believes the trend continues because of a certain mindset with abusers that remains today. “They have the ideas of maybe women as second class citizens or maybe women as property. If you think about it, a man gives his daughter away.”
Neil says that’s why he is a part of a movement called Man UPstate. The group is reaching out to men in the Upstate to stand up to abusers and not condone violence. He says it’s as simple as teaching men to think of women as equals. “If somebody tells a joke that’s degrading to women, instead of laughing with everybody, go that’s not cool.”
The group hopes the awareness will also get more victims to go to police. “There are lots of people dealing with this behind closed doors, but it’s never reported,” said Meredith.
They’re asking people to take a pledge online, like Neil has, as a father, brother and son to women. “Very early I was taught, you don’t hit girls or the lesson, you should probably don’t hit anyone.”
For more information on ManUpstate, click HERE.
Both Safe Harbor and Man Upstate say they’re happy to see more being done by lawmakers on domestic abuse.
Governor Nikki Haley signed a tougher criminal domestic violence law in June.
It bans some abusers from having guns and it sets penalties based on the severity of the abuse, not just whether it’s a first, second, or third offense.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Across the Upstate, there are resources for victims of domestic violence. In Greenville, Oconee, Pickens, and Anderson women can get help from Safe Harbor. For more information, click HERE.
In Spartanburg, Union, and Cherokee counties, Safe Homes provides resources for help. CLICK HERE for more.