Statistically speaking, South Carolina is doing better.
That said, the Palmetto State’s reputation remains severely tainted. Yes, our state is a beautiful one, offering wonderful stretches of shoreline and islands to the east, foothills to the west and wealth of wonderful attractions, such as those afforded visitors to our own Lakelands.
But there is a dark side to the state represented by its standing among the top 10 nationally in which domestic violence leads to death — most victims being women killed at the hands of a spouse or significant other.
On Tuesday, and for the 21st consecutive year, the state Attorney General’s Office remembered domestic violence victims with a Silent Witness ceremony on the Statehouse grounds.
At the ceremony, 29 women and 11 men who died last year as a result of domestic violence were honored and remembered. Life-sized silhouettes represented each of the 40. Each victim’s name was mentioned, as well as the manner in which they died. A 41st silhouette represented unknown victims.
In 2016, the Violence Policy Center reported that 48 women were killed by men whose hands should have been gentle and caring, not used to kill.
Laws have gotten tougher, the state’s numbers have improved and many prosecutors, such as our own 8th Circuit Solicitor David Stumbo, have focused their efforts on convicting those who commit domestic violence crimes. Even after 21 years of ceremonies at the Statehouse and all the other efforts that have been made going forward, South Carolina must do better.
As is the case with so many behaviors, domestic violence is, sadly, often a learned and mirrored behavior. Reducing the number of cases will require breaking the cycle in homes, it will require education, character building and support for those who are victims. It will also require continued vigilance on the part of law enforcement, prosecutors and our judicial system.