Ending Cycle of Domestic Violence in SC

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September 26, 2005
A violent statistic just announced for South Carolina…South Carolina ranks sixth when it comes to women murdered by men. News 12 is on your side showing you ways organizations are trying to lower domestic violence in South Carolina.

It’s called a cycle of violence, a pattern that officials say doesn’t end easily. The first step is reaching out for help.

On this Monday, Sean Zeigler has a stack of reports from the weekend to sort through.

“Typically, somebody that’s been involved in a cycle of violence, it starts at the mental abuse and it works its way to physical manifestation,” Zeigler said.

Zeigler is one of two investigators at the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office dedicated full-time to domestic violence. It’s a position he’s held since July 2004.

“It would be difficult to say it’s a success this early because it’s a lengthy process to get somebody out of that cycle,” Zeigler said.

And for some in South Carolina, the cycle was deadly. The Washington, D.C. based Violence Policy Center reports that South Carolina ranks sixth in the rate of women murdered by men. According to the report, 47 women were killed in 2003, the most recent stats available. It’s a problem Aiken County is trying to tackle early.

“There’s a lot of mental abuse that goes on in an abusive relationship. That makes a person feel like they’re less than who they are and almost to the point of feeling that they deserve the treatment they’re receiving,” said Cindy Gelinas, Counselor, USC Aiken.

Cindy Gelinas works at the counseling center at USC Aiken. It’s a relatively small university, but still enough young students to keep her busy.

“It’s easier to get out of a pattern sooner than later. The longer they stay there, they start thinking it’s an acceptable way of living,” Gelinas said. “They will tell you it’s not the first time this happened. It might be the first time they called the police, but it’s not the first time it’s happened.”

Both the sheriff’s office and USC Aiken work closely with the Cumbee Center. It’s a shelter in Aiken that provides counseling to people in abusive relationships.

South Carolina ranks sixth and Georgia ranks ninth. With 90 murders in Georgia, that’s a rate of about two people per 100,000 women. In 2003, the Attorney General reports there was one domestic violence murder in Aiken County. There were 870 domestic violence victims, 80 percent female, which is 61 of every 10,000. Those numbers were down slightly from 2002 when there were four homicides. In the state in 2003 there were 36 homicides and more than 35,000 victims.