By V. Susan Hutchinson
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the United States. Domestic violence affects people from all walks of life and makes no distinction between race, gender, religion, culture or social status.
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, passed in 1994, included a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was spearheaded by then Sen. Joe Biden. This important legislation included key elements to protect women who are victims of domestic violence as well as providing tools to help fight against domestic abuse; however, it was just the beginning of addressing this ever-growing problem. The VAWA provides some of the following programs:
- Community violence prevention programs
- Protection for victims evicted from the homes due to event related to domestic violence or stalking
- Funding for rape crisis centers and hotlines
- Legal aid for survivors of domestic violence
The VAWA has gone through 3 reauthorizations since it was passed with each one adding new provisions based on the current research available and the best ways to address the issue. Due to partisan politics in Congress, the 2019 reauthorization, which was approved by the Democratically held House, sits idle in the Republican held Senate with its fate unknown.
In these uncertain political times, it is up to the American people and domestic violence groups, both local and national, to continue to raise awareness for this important issue.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence released their Strategic Plan for 2019-2021 with a mission to “lead, mobilize and raise our voices to support efforts that demand a change in conditions that lead to domestic violence.” Their ongoing objective is to support survivors and advocates and hold offenders accountable for their actions. They have also compiled a fact sheet that defines domestic violence and also lists key national statistics such as:
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner
- 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked
- Over 20,000 hotline calls are typically received every day across the nation
- Access to firearms by the abuser increases the risk that a woman will die by 400%
- Domestic abuse accounts for 15% of all violent crime and is the most common against women between 18 and 24
In Horry County the only resource available for victims of domestic abuse is the Family Justice Center (FJC), which also serves Georgetown County. Statistically, South Carolina is one of the worst in the nation when it comes to this type of violent crime. We are currently 6th in the country for women killed by men with 40 intimate partners, women more than men, murdered in 2017.
During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the FJC will be conducting the First Annual Candle Light Vigil and Walk, Thursday October 10 from 6p-7:30p at their Georgetown location 2705 Highmarket St, Georgetown, 29440. The event will feature a guest speaker as well as light refreshments.
Another Candle Light Vigil will be held Thursday October 24 from 6p to 7p at the Georgetown Sheriff’s Dept 430 N Fraser St, Georgetown 29440. This event is hosted by crime victim’s advocates of Georgetown County.
Participants are encouraged to wear purple to these events, the color representing bruises on domestic violence victims.
The Family Justice Center provides a 24/7 Crisis Hotline (844-208-0161) as well as emergency shelter, counseling and court advocacy services. If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, we encourage you to contact the FJC for assistance.
You don’t have to suffer in silence.