This year, there were 47 names and 47 unique stories to be read during our annual Silent Witness ceremony, which honors the South Carolinians who died as a result of domestic violence during the previous year.
Reading the names of these victims aloud never gets easier. The stories are heartbreaking, and one life lost to this vicious crime is one too many.
While the number of women killed by men is high, not all victims are women. Of the 47 fatalities, 12 were men. Fighting stereotypes is half of the battle. Education and awareness are vital components of this fight.
One of those male victims was University of South Carolina professor Raja Fayad, who was shot by his ex-wife in his office on campus. Sadly, Fayad had notified police several weeks prior to his death that he was afraid of his ex-wife. The couple had a volatile history, and Fayad expressed concern of her coming to his workplace to cause trouble. The news was heartwrenching and shook our town.
Our state has made great progress in this battle, and there is much to be proud of. A 2015 law increased accountability for offenders, established community-based domestic violence coordinating councils and required prevention education for middle school students.
A primary goal was to increase penalties when there were aggravating factors, such as a pregnant victim, and just a few months after the law was signed, Ricky Short stabbed his girlfriend Malakia Frazier multiple times in a public street. Frazier was pregnant, and the child died shortly after being delivered four months premature. Short was charged with two counts of murder and is awaiting trial.
Domestic violence also affects children. When they witness violence in the home, it creates a cycle of violence that can impact them for the rest of their lives, so penalties are increased when that happens as well.
Domestic violence is a tragic epidemic plaguing our nation. Our work will not be done until we no longer have a reason to host a Silent Witness ceremony — when the number of lives lost to this crime is zero. Until then, keep in mind a simple directive: If you see something, say something. Together, we can put an end to this heinous crime.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911. If you or someone you love is in an abusive relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
S.C. Attorney General