October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and this October marks the 6th straight year South Carolina has ranked in the top five in the United States for the number of women killed by men, ranking fifth for the second year in a row.
“We were five last year we were number one the year before that we were number two the year before that we were number one before that,” said Theresa Lacey, the community educator for Hopeful Horizons, “They think that five is an improvement and while it is it’s nowhere near where we need to be.”
The Violence Policy Center has conducted the study for the past two decades and South Carolina has never escaped the top 10. The most recent results came out in September 2017, analyzing year 2015.
Forty-six names –women killed at the hand of someone they loved in the Palmetto state.
“On the wedding gowns are the names of all the victims killed in the two prior years in incidences of domestic violence in South Carolina,” said Lacey referencing the wedding gown display they’re doing in family courthouses this October, “Nobody walks into a marriage thinking they’re going to be abused… and you look at the names and you discover that they are dead.”
For this year’s statistics, it places behind Alaska at number one, followed by Nevada, Louisiana and Tennessee. In the Palmetto state, more than 90 percent of women were killed by someone they knew, most by a firearm.
“If the emotional abuse, and the mental abuse and the financial control and the using the children to control the woman and the isolation if those things aren’t working,” Lacey said, “Then he ups the ante to the physical and sexual violence so that he can maintain the power and control over.”
In 2015, Nikki Haley passed the Domestic Violence Reform Act, enforcing harsher punishments and revoking gun-ownership for those convicted of domestic abuse.
“We have seen an improvement with the changes in the law we did go from number two to number five and have held steady at number five, but that goes back to who really wants to be number five?” said Lacey.
She adds that we’ve made progress, but the reform needs more county and federal funding.
“In South Carolina we have 46 counties, we have 14 shelters for women, we have 46 shelters for animals.. county funded animal shelters,” Lacey said.
While many abuse victims think it’s a private issue, Lacey says it’s not private, it’s societal issue that needs our attention.
Hopeful Horizon is hosting a number of events in October through the Lowcountry to create awareness including:
Clothesline Project in libraries
Wedding gown displays in Hampton, Colleton, and Jasper County courthouses
Coffee Shop “Pay It Forward” at Pluff Mudd in Port Royal; 5% of proceeds of pay it forward coffee at Pluff Mudd will be donated to Hopeful Horizons. Awareness displays at Common Ground and Watusi
Shear Miracle Color Me Purple Fundraiser at Shear Miracle Salon, portion of purple hair coloring will go to Hopeful Horizons
Candlelight vigils at high school football games: Ridgeland/Hardeeville October 13,Whale Branch October 20, Hilton Head HS October 27
If you or someone you know needs help, the Hopeful Horizons hotline is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-868-2632.