It’s Not a Great Day in South Carolina for Women
For Immediate Release
September 19, 2012
It’s Not a Great Day in South Carolina for Women: SC Jumps to #2 in the Nation of Women Murdered by Men
In a national report released today, South Carolina ranks second in the nation in the rate of women murdered by men. The report by the Violence Policy Center, "When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2010 Homicide Data" (http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2012.pdf), shows that the rate of women murdered by men in South Carolina is 1.94 out of every 100,000 people; a rate exceeded only by the state of Nevada. In last year's report, South Carolina ranked 7th in the nation, showing that violence against women is sadly increasing in our state.
In 2010, 46 women were murdered by men in South Carolina. All knew the attacker. 70% (31 victims) were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offender. Among the women who were murdered by an intimate partner, 65% were killed with guns; 75 percent of these (15 victims) were shot and killed with handguns. The average age of the victims was 41.
Sadly, these statistics are a grim reminder of what domestic violence victim advocates already know: South Carolina MUST take violence against women more seriously.
Currently, in our state, our focus still remains on forcing women to leave abusive relationships. But, we have seen time and time again that this simply does not work. Women are at much more risk of being killed when leaving, or attempting to leave, an abusive relationships. This, of course, does not mean that we should encourage victims to stay. Rather, we need to start listening to what victims are telling us. Often times, victims remain in violent relationships because they simply do not have the resources, financial or otherwise, to be able to leave. We must be able to connect victims to resources that will help them safely care for themselves and their children.
Victims also often stay to protect their children. In almost all cases, the abuser will receive some type of custody or visitation rights--often forcing children to be alone with the abusive parent. We must find ways to keep children safe, which can often be achieved by ensuring the safety of their protective parent (the victim). If we continue to force women to choose between their own safety and the safety of their children, we will continue to see murder rates soar.
We must start seeing domestic violence for what it is--a crime of power. It is not a domestic incident, private issue, or a family matter. It is a crime in which one person chooses to use intimidation, control, threats, and violence against their partner or spouse. It is a crime that can have deadly consequences for the victim, other family members, professionals, and the public at large. For this to stop, we must start holding abusers accountable for their violence, before it reaches a deadly level. And we must offer support and resources--not judgment--to victims.
We all have a responsibility to stop domestic violence, both by intervening early and by being aware of how we talk about this issue. Here are some ways we can all help stop this horrific crime:
· Believe victims. It’s important that we listen when someone says their partner is controlling them, being extremely jealous, threatening them, or abusing them in any way. We must take these allegations seriously. Believe victims, and then put them in touch with an advocacy program close to them. These programs can provide safety, resources, and help with creating a safety plan.
· Challenge abusive and controlling behavior at all levels. Abusers believe they have a right to control their partner. To get the message across that this is not ok, we must intervene much earlier. If we start teaching people early about healthy relationships, we can help prevent domestic violence in the future. It’s important that we hold people accountable for all abusive behavior—early and often—before it’s too late.
· Look for warning signs: extreme jealousy, isolation, controlling what someone does or who they talk to, verbal abuse, insults and put downs. In a healthy relationship, your partner should appreciate who you are, and encourage you to have your own friends, hobbies, and interests. If you are being abused or controlled, it is not your fault, and there is help available. And if you are abusing someone, it is not ok. And there is help available for you, as well.
· Recognize the power of words. Victims of domestic violence know the abuser better than anyone else, and will take many actions to increase their safety—even if these actions don’t always make sense to us at the time. Rather than continuing to tell victims what to do, or questioning their actions, we need to focus on the person committing the crime—the abuser. Instead of asking why she stays, we need to ask him why he continues to abuse.
As Pamela Jacobs, Executive Director of SCCADVASA, said, “It’s time we stop telling victims what to do, and start telling abusers what not to do. If we all take a stand, we can end domestic violence. We can save lives.”
If you or someone you know is being abused, the National Domestic Violence Hotline can connect you with advocacy services in your area: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). If you would like to get involved in ending domestic violence in your community, reach out to your local domestic violence program. Visit http://sccadvasa.org/ or call (803) 256-2900 to find your local program, or to learn more about domestic violence.