Group recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Community leaders, law enforcement officers, area Victims Advocates met together at the First Baptist Church in Bamberg Oct. 2 to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month with information from Victim Advocate Regina Gatling, Solicitor Barbara Morgan, Angela Key, VWAP Coordinator, and Assistant Solicitor Benjamin Moore and CASA Family Services and Frank Loadholt and Kelli Carter Stewart of CASA. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In her opening remarks, Victims Advocate Regina Gatling, explained that Bamberg County is “number six in the sate for domestic violence, Number seven in deaths related to Domestic Violence, and number one as the state’s most violent county. It isn’t just ‘our’ problem,” she said, “it’s a community problem … we do, she said, “have a higher purpose-a higher calling.”

“We’ve got to change the way we look at Domestic Violence,” 2nd Judicial Circuit Solicitor Barbara Morgan said. “We’ve got to be innovative, creative, and committed” to solve this very grave problem in our state. “Criminal Domestic Violence,” Assistant Solicitor Benjamin Moore noted, “is probably one of the most difficult, most frustrating cases we face.”

CASA’s Frank Loadholt explained that in the “past ten years there have been 1,109 battery cases we’ve served in the tricounty area and probably could have served perhaps 8,000. And we’ve still got a whole lot of work to do.”

A Silent Witness Domestic Violence ceremony was held Monday, Oct. 6, on the South steps of the State House in Columbia. At the ceremony the names of each 2007 fatal domestic violence victim was released and announced.

Last year's ceremony remembered the fifty men and women from across the state who lost their lives in 2006 as the result of domestic violence.

Attorney General Henry McMaster named domestic violence as the number one crime problem in South Carolina. More than 36,000 victims annually report a domestic violence incident to law enforcement agencies around the state. Over the past eight years, an average of thirty-eight (38) women have been killed each year by their intimate partner.

According to SC Victims Assistance Network, South Carolina is the second most-dangerous place to live in the country. In Bamberg County, in 2007, there was a total of 95 Criminal Domestic violence victims, with 9.5% of those male, 90.5% female, 49 arrests and 1 homicide.