Criminal Domestic Violence in South Carolina
By Georgia Ricketts
A cry for help is often never heard, because this crime is so seldom reported by the victim. More often than not, the victim is lulled into not reporting CDV out of fear, embarrassment or the empty promises of the perpetrator that “it will never happen again”. If you have been physically abused once, it WILL happen again. More than 36,000 victims annually report a domestic violence incident to law enforcement agencies around the state. Over the past thirteen years, an average of thirty-three (33) women have been killed each year by their intimate partner.
Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, family violence, and intimate partner violence (IPV), has been broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, friends or cohabitation. Domestic violence, so defined, has many forms, including physical aggression (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation. Alcohol consumption, drug abuse and mental illness present additional challenges when present alongside patterns of physical abuse.
According to some studies, less that 1 percent of domestic violence cases are reported to the police. According to the Centers for Disease Control, domestic violence is a serious, preventable public health problem affecting more than 25 million American women. If you are in danger (and you are) due to living in a situation of domestic violence, you need to make an escape plan to separate yourself and your children from potential harm. Often the perpetrator will escalate the violence to include children in the family.
Domestic violence has become a crisis in the Palmetto State.
Currently South Carolina ranks ninth in the nation for the amount of homicides caused by criminal domestic violence. Domestic crime is defined as violence, abuse, or willful neglect that occurs between two parties who are related to each other or who share an intimate relationship. Domestic crime can be perpetrated by a child, parent, grandparent, spouse, other family member, former spouse, dating partner, former dating partner, household member, caretaker, and the like.
Domestic violence used to be regarded as a private matter which was not often handled through the criminal justice system. The devastating effects of domestic violence, the de-stigmatization of interceding on behalf of a victim, and other factors have prompted each state to enact much harsher laws on domestic crime.
Domestic crime encompasses a myriad of offenses that may be committed between intimates. Domestic violence can include any type of physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, or economic abuse committed by one person against a family member, intimate, or other person with close ties to the offender. Domestic violence can also include cases of willful neglect or mistreatment that occurs within these relationships. The severity of domestic violence, in the eyes of the law, will depend on specific state law and the specific circumstances of the offence(s) in question.
Most states also consider it a crime to interfere with the reporting of domestic crime. States also have laws which require domestic violence aggressors to be arrested after an incident. In cases where no arrest is made, a police officer is still required to file a domestic violence report.
There are a number of special legal issues related to domestic crime. After a domestic violence incident, “no contact” or similar restraining orders may be issued to prohibit the offender from contacting the victim by any means for a period of time. A civil protection order may also be issued, ordering the offender to stay away from the victim, leave a shared residence, and the like. In domestic violence cases, the victim is considered a witness and does not have the authority to drop charges against the defendant. In most cases, a domestic violence case can only be dropped at the request of the district attorney upon approval from a judge.
Individuals that have been charged with a domestic crime have the right to professional legal services. If the person cannot afford to retain these services, legal counsel must be provided. The penalty for domestic crime will depend on the specific case. Domestic violence is punishable by prison or jail time, fines, community service, probation, and compulsory domestic violence treatment programs. Those who are convicted of domestic crime are prohibited from possessing a firearm. Offenders who have previous domestic violence convictions will face much harsher penalties.
Domestic Violence affects everyone in the family.
According to the US Department of Justice 1 in 4 females will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime.
Domestic violence is the most common source of injury to women – it is more common than auto accidents, muggings, and rapes by a stranger, combined
More than 4,000 women each year in the United States are killed by their partners.
63% of boys, ages 11 to 20, arrested for homicide, have killed their mother’s abuser.
5-10% of domestic violence victims are men, although this is a highly under-reported number due to society’s stigmas.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, medical expenses from domestic violence are about $3-5 billion annually and businesses forfeit at least another $100 million in lost wages, sick leave, non-productivity and absenteeism.
Always call 911 to report your situation, and enlist the help of friends or family when making your escape plan. Agencies listed below will be of help and most offer immediate shelter.
Safe Haven Ministries
200 East Peachtree Street,
Woodruff, SC 29388-1523
NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE
1-800-799-SAFE (7233), 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
PARENT AGENCY: National Council on Family Violence
Violence Against Women Program 1-803-734-3970