May 11, 2008

What You Can Do To Help Prevent Domestic Violence

By Winnie Williams
May 8, 2008 - 12:00 a.m. EST

Winnie Williams

Special to the Daily Journal/Messenger

Winnie Williams

Criminal domestic violence is the number one crime problem in South Carolina, according to the Attorney General’s report in 2006. He also reports that a woman is battered 12 to 15 times before she reports the abuse to law officials to file a report. According to the SC Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse, Oconee County ranks 36th out of 45 counties in incidents of domestic violence with 429 abuses reported, Pickens County ranks 42nd with 382 abuses, and Anderson County ranks 14th with 1480 abuses reported. These figures represent an approximate number of women violated by a partner each year in South Carolina.

The above incidence rates should be a wake-up call for immediate action to combat this criminal dilemma in our community. Not only do we have obligations to rescue women from violence, but also the eight million plus children each year who are at risk from witnessing domestic violence in their homes. A boy who witnesses his father’s domestic violence is 10 times more likely to engage in domestic violence than a boy from a nonviolent home (SCCADVAS). A worthy goal would be to have a violence-free generation.

How can a community address this most prevalent crime? It will "take a village” working together to significantly impact this mammoth problem, but it can happen by one person or organization at a time daring to take the initiative to become an advocate for battered victims.

The following are suggestions for communities who desire to address the domestic violence issue:

— Alert the public.

— Ensure that our county, school and libraries have books related DV.

— Help our communities become aware of the availability of programs.

— Make people aware of Hotlines and Safe Homes.

— Become aware of laws for DV.

— Encourage law enforcement officers to be aggressive.

— Encourage schools to provide education resources for teens.

Additional research needs to be done to determine, for example, how youth violence is linked to aggression at home. A study by Dr. Kurt Fischer, of Harvard/Brandeis University found that “Violence by youngsters 7-13 is more related to the amount of aggression children witness in their parents and is a powerful predictor of how violent children will become.” These children learn to use violent behavior as a solution to their problems. Stopping domestic violence can come through political will and determination. Contacting your legislators to develop and enforce strong laws regarding domestic violence would be a muscular deterrent to violence.

There are multiple means of tackling this horrible crime, and many resources are available that have not been tapped. Dollars do help in providing a safe haven for women and children, but the greatest challenge is the prevention of the abuse in the first place. Prevention is the key to solving this age-old problem that tends to be disregarded and often unnoticed by communities.


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