Staff report

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and South Carolina is now ranked the fifth deadliest state in the nation for women who are killed by men.

According to the Washington, D.C. based Violence Policy Center, there were 52 women killed by men in the state in 2017, which was a rate of 2.01 women per 100,000 thousand men, based on an analysis of homicide data.

South Carolina has been in the top ten for women murdered by men for the past 20 years.

Myesha Belcher, volunteer coordinator for Safe Passage in Rock Hill, was a guest on the Palmetto Report to discuss the issue.

“The causes for domestic violence are power and control; that’s the two main things that people want when they are abusers,” said Belcher.

Safe passage offers support to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse in York, Chester, Lancaster and Union Counties.

“We are the only shelter for domestic violence victims (in Rock Hill) and the next one is located in North Carolina,” said Belcher.

“We do provide counseling and we have education classes for those who need to know more about the relationships they’re getting into. We have support groups and general and basic advocacy with trying to help (victims) find a job or housing if they need it.”

Earlier this month, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson hosted the 22nd annual Silent Witness ceremony in Columbia, which remembered victims of domestic violence from 2018.

Wilson read the names of the 30 women and 11 men who were victims of domestic violence, which were represented by life-sized silhouettes, during the ceremony at the Statehouse Oct. 1. A 42nd silhouette represented the potential unknown victims.

“This is a sad and solemn occasion to commemorate the lives that were lost in the past year to domestic violence,” said Wilson, in a press release.

“This is a cycle of violence that must be broken in our state,” he said. “All too often, not only is the life of the victim lost, but in ways, we lose the children who grow up in a home where domestic violence is taking place.”

At Winthrop University, the student group A.Bevy hosted a panel discussion Oct. 3 that featured speakers who have experienced domestic violence and professionals who have worked with survivors.

Additionally, the school plans to “turn the campus purple” (the color associated with domestic violence) by placing small flags and ribbons on Scholars Walk Oct. 28-31.