GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA-TV) – October is “Domestic Violence Awareness” month and the issue continues to plague our state.
This year, a national study ranks South Carolina as the fifth deadliest state for domestic violence against women.
“Domestic violence is more than just an incident of physical abuse. It’s truly a pattern of power and control,” said Julie Meredith, Program Director at Greenville’s Safe Harbor.
Kicking off this October, they are teaching the community to “defy the lies” about domestic violence.
“We wanted to be able to share stories of women from across the board, knowing that domestic violence looks so many different ways to so many different relationships,” said Meredith.
Meredith knows South Carolina has a long way to go. That same national report released last week ranked South Carolina as the deadliest state for domestic violence last year.
“While, of course, it’s wonderful not to be number one for that statistic [again this year], I think we have to think more deeply about the overall issue of domestic violence,” said Meredith.
Former state Senator, Larry Martin, agrees. He led the charge on 2015 legislation that made domestic violence charges harsher. The new law also strips gun rights away from certain convicted offenders.
“We knew what the real problem was. It was people taking out a gun that had access to it and shooting somebody,” said Martin.
Many say Martin fell on his sword to get this passed. He lost his Senate seat this summer, with critics saying he wasn’t “pro-second amendment.”
“I’m all about gun rights and I’m all about the second amendment, but when you demonstrate that you can’t control yourself, then it’s time to do something and it’s past time in South Carolina,” said Martin.
He and Meredith say it will take several years to see the stats change in response to the new laws, but it’s a necessary start to end a deadly problem.
Tuesday, the 19th annual Silent Witness Ceremonies will be held at the Statehouse in remembrance of those who died last year due to domestic violence. Life-sized silhouettes will stand on the steps for each victim.
You domestic violence resources, click HERE.