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A bell tolled while 33 domestic violence homicide victims’ names, from 19 of South Carolina’s 46 counties, were read aloud. This is the sound I remember after leaving the Silent Witness ceremony at the South Carolina State House last Tuesday.  A summary was read of the 33 victims’ deaths as silhouettes representing each of the deceased were carried onto the granite steps of the State House.  This is a moment I will never forget. 

Sixteen years ago, the Violence against Women Act (VAWA), broke the silence surrounding domestic violence and declared October Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Safe Harbor joins the many organizations around the nation that reach out to thousands of survivors, victims and countless of untold lives effected by abuse.
South Carolina ranks number nine nationally for the number of women killed by their intimate partners.  We have ranked in the top ten for the last decade.  This is a reason no one wants to be in the top ten.   In 2009, 33 South Carolinians lost their lives by their intimate partners.   Six of those victims were from Greenville County, two from Oconee county, and one from Pickens County.   These are nine victims from our service area.  Safe Harbor provides services for Anderson, Greenville, Oconee and Pickens Counties.

It has been estimated one out of four women – 25 percent of women nationally – will become victims of domestic violence during their lifetime. It has been estimated that 74 percent of Americans know someone who is the victim of domestic violence.

Below is a poem that I was introduced to when I first started working for Safe Harbor over eight years ago and it still makes me sad when I read it today:

I got flowers today.
It wasn’t my birthday or any other special day.
We had our first argument last night,
And he said a lot of cruel things that really hurt me.
I know he is sorry and didn’t mean the things he said.
Because he sent me flowers today.

I got flowers today.
It wasn’t our anniversary or any other special day.
Last night, he threw me into a wall and started to choke me.
It seemed like a nightmare.
I couldn’t believe it was real.
I woke up this morning sore and bruised all over.
I know he must be sorry.
Because he sent me flowers today.

I got flowers today,
And it wasn’t Mother’s Day or any other special day.
Last night, he beat me up again.
And it was much worse than all the other times.
If I leave him, what will I do?
How will I take care of my kids?
What about money?
I’m afraid of him and scared to leave.
But I know he must be sorry.
Because he sent me flowers today.

I got flowers today.
Today was a very special day.
It was the day of my funeral.
Last night, he finally killed me.
He beat me to death.
If only I had gathered enough courage
and strength to leave him,
I would not have gotten flowers…today.

Safe Harbor will hold a Candlelight Vigil on October 21st at 429 N. Main Street, Greenville, on the front lawn of our administrative office building.  We also have a vigil scheduled for October 28th in Anderson at the Farmer’s Market Pavilion.  Both Vigils start at 6:30 pm.  Our Vigils remember those that have lost their lives to domestic violence, honor those that have survived, and also to give strength to those that are still gathering the courage to leave.

Please join us in our effort to stop domestic violence. 

Written By:  Greta Young, Assistant Executive Director

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