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Political Science Department Hosts Domestic Violence Town Hall

Posted by: wichmannkm | January 15, 2015 | No Comment |

Domestic Violence Town Hall

On the evening of January 13th, the College of Charleston Political Science Department hosted a Domestic Violence Town Hall in Sottile Theater. Professors Christopher Day and Claire Wofford worked in collaboration with ABC News 4 (WCIV-TV) and the Post and Courier to facilitate a discussion between experts in the field of domestic violence and the local community.

The six panelists were Post and Courier Reporter Doug Pardue; 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson; Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen; Executive Director of Safe Harbor Becky Callaham; Executive Director of the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Sara Barber; and State Representative Peter McCoy (SC-115). The audience included College of Charleston students, domestic violence victims, victim advocates, health practitioners who treat abused women, and community members searching for solutions to the state’s domestic violence epidemic.

Pardue pointed out that South Carolina has had the unfortunate distinction of being ranked as the state with the most number of women killed by men. Frustrated with the lack of political action to address this issue, Pardue and his colleagues published the Post and Courier Special Investigation, “Till Death Do Us Part.” He said that women are very reluctant to report domestic abuse because they feel embarrassed and isolated. Women may also not report abuse because of their religious beliefs and traditions. Furthermore, their abusers may be the only source of financial support.

According to Callaham, domestic violence and guns make a lethal combination. If a gun is used in a domestic violence situation, it is twenty-three times more likely a death will occur as opposed to the use of other weapons. Barber added that 52% of domestic violence homicides are the direct result of firearms. McCoy noted that an individual that has been convicted of domestic violence cannot possess a weapon. When asked if something can be done to avoid putting firearms in the hands of perpetrators before tragedy occurs, McCoy said that the state legislature is working toward preventative measures.

When a nurse midwife asked about what resources are available for domestic violence victims, Callaham stressed the importance of victims having a safety plan because women are often in even more danger if they try to leave the abusive situation. Charleston County is fortunate to have My Sister’s House as a safe place for victims, but Wilson noted that South Carolina’s rural counties do not have these resources and the state needs to do more. Callaham also pointed out that unfortunately there are no real long term solutions in place for domestic violence victims.

Barber described domestic violence as a “tangled knot that is difficult to untie” because both victims and their families need support. She stressed that domestic violence affects all walks of life and a holistic, preventative approach needs to be taken when addressing abuse. She also noted the importance of teaching children at a young age what respectful relationships look like. According to Barber, continual education is key.

Attendees at the Domestic Violence Town Hall, and those who watched the event on television, came away with a better understanding of the magnitude of this issue, compassion for the victims, and admiration for the panelists and advocates who work on their behalf.

“I believe that it was an extremely productive conversation,” said Dr. Wofford. “It is not often that advocates, community members, and government officials reach such a consensus about the need for change. My hope is that the momentum of the event continues and that the citizens of South Carolina soon see real progress in this area.”

For more information on domestic violence in South Carolina and how you can help, please visit http://www.sccadvasa.org/.

under: Events

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