Study illustrates South Carolina's domestic violence problem

The national investigative, research and advocacy organization known as the Violence Policy Center has released a study ranking South Carolina eighth in the nation in the rate of females murdered by males. The study used 2007 data showing the Palmetto State with a murder rate of men killing women at 2.04 per 100,000, which is nearly twice the national average. Rebecca Williams-Agee  of the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault says the number actually shows improvement from 2006 when the state was ranked second, with 63 women murdered by men. Williams-Agree says the state must do more to further curb the cycle of violence against women.
What it really means is that we are still in the top 10, something we have never been out of as a state just means we still have a lot of work to do. There needs to be more education, more access to different groups, and more information provided for those who need help. We need to let them know what services we as an organization provide and what services their local communities’ programs provide.”
While the problem of domestic violence affects persons of all economic levels, Williams-Agee says the problem has been shown to escalate during times of economic recession. “There are quite a few numbers and studies out there that say the number of incidence of domestic violence rise during economic downturns. Again we need to continue to provide those services, allowing people to access those services like shelters, counseling and legal advocacy that are really important.”
Williams-Agee says during these economic times many resources are being used to help families make ends meet and that normally means fewer resources for shelters and other services for persons affected by domestic violence.
While national figures indicate that black women have a 33 percent greater chance of being murdered by a man than white women, in South Carolina of the 46 women murdered by men in South Carolina in 2007 26 were white, 18 were black. Williams-Agee says she is not surprised by those figures. “Domestic violence doesn’t know race. It doesn’t know ethnicity or economic standing for that matter. It something we really try to stress and I think the numbers in the state indicate that even though we have a very large minority population in this state they still can be a minority in the number of victims.”
Williams-Agee says during this economic downturn, community resources are being spread thin and that includes resources to help women who are victims of domestic violence. Instead, many choose to stay in a situation that may escalate into further violence. “There have been so many lost jobs, the unemployment rate in South Carolina is very high and so community resources have definitely gone done. With less community resources in situation where victims are trying to leave it is much more likely that the economic downturn would effect them in such a way that they are required to stay because of a lack of financial independence.”
Williams-Agee says while a few men with a history of violent behavior are seeking help voluntarily to change their behavior, most still are getting help because it is mandated by the court system. “A lot of people who attend those are court ordered so it is not like they have taken upon themselves to seek help, however they are in those classes, they are in those groups and they are working toward getting better. They are working toward understanding why and what they did was wrong and how they must act differently and handle themselves differently.”