Regardless of our location, party affiliation, ethnicity or socio-economic status, we can all agree that domestic violence is a serious problem in the Palmetto State.
The fix may not seem to be as complex as finding a way to fix roads, fully fund education, reform our broken tax code and improve the overall quality of life for everyday, hard-working South Carolina families. However, it has been a struggle to make changes in the attitudes of leaders and in the culture of South Carolina’s citizens.
For years, South Carolina has ranked in the top five states for women killed by men. With 50 women slain in a year’s time, our rate is still nearly double the national average, according to the Violence Policy Center. Over the past 10 years, more than 300 women have died in South Carolina at the hands of a man who once loved them. That’s about one killing every 12 days. Yes, South Carolina, we do have a problem.
We believe one solution to this growing problem comes through legislative action. On Thursday, the Legislature passed S.3, a bipartisan bill that will really address domestic violence. It will strengthen penalties against domestic violence offenders, take guns out of the hands of those convicted of the most severe cases and put other options at a judge’s discretion. It also will require education for middle school students on domestic violence awareness and prevention.
We also believe the work of Sistercare continues to be part of the solution. Sistercare, lead by Nancy Barton, serves victims of domestic violence, including children, throughout Lexington, Richland, Fairfield and Newberry counties.
In 2014, Sistercare provided educational services to 8,194 people, provided assistance to 6,947 domestic violence survivors and their children, fielded, 3,072 crisis-line calls and provided shelter to 482 adults and children. Sistercare is a huge part of the solution.
We hope that as more light is shed on this important issue, more mothers and children will be saved from this problem that exists in all of our communities.
Sistercare Board Member
Sen. Katrina Shealy