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Many women and children are in serious danger in a place where they should be safe and secure- within their own home.
Domestic violence is a very serious problem in the state of South Carolina.
Annually, more than 36,000 victims report a domestic incident to law enforcement agencies around the state.
During the past 13 years, an average of 33 women have been killed each year by their intimate partner.
In South Carolina, the term domestic violence refers to violence between a male and female who are married, or share a child in common.
It also includes a male and female who are cohabitating or who have formerly cohabitated. Domestic violence cuts across boundaries of education, culture, socio-economic status and ethnicity. The abuse may be physical or verbal.
Oftentimes domestic abuse escalates from threats and verbal abuse to physical violence.
And while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe.
Domestic abuse often leads to depression, anxiety and feelings of self-worthlessness.
Even though a victim may seem free to leave, she is held prisoner by fear of further violence being inflicted upon herself or her children, or by lack of resources, family or community support.
Below are a series of disturbing statistics from various sources relating to domestic violence in America:
u A woman is beaten every 15 seconds in the United States.
u 95 percent of domestic violence victims are women.
u Nearly one-third of American women report being physically abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.
u Between 3.3 and 10 million children witness domestic violence each year.
u Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.
u There are 16,800 homicides and 2.2 million (medically treated) injuries due to domestic/intimate partner violence annually.
u South Carolina ranks ninth in the nation in homicides caused by criminal domestic violence.
In 2006, the South Carolina legislature enacted stiffer penalties for those convicted of criminal domestic violence.
There is now mandatory jail time required for repeat offenders and higher fine amounts for those convicted of criminal domestic violence first offense. Domestic violence should not happen to anyone, but when it does there are several organizations willing to help.
Victims of domestic violence may contact the S.C. Coalition Against Domestc Violence and Sexual Assault at ( 803) 256-2900 or Safe Passage at (803) 285-6533
Curtisha Mingo is the assistant solicitor for the 6th Judicial Circuit.