In preparing to structure my newest blog entry, I Googled ‘Domestic Violence Statistics’. Amazingly, the first business that pops up is a paid advertisement link from a Columbia, SC attorney to fight charges of CDV. The next four are shelters and hotline ads. That attorney paid more per-click to be top of the search engine than any other site on the web. That alone should tell you where we are in South Carolina when it comes to battling domestic abuse.
Having the conversation about being armed to protect yourself in the event of familiar violence is a tough subject, but it is a necessity. First, wrap your head around a few statistics so you know why this topic is about to head south:
FACT: 4,774,000, (that’s four million, seven hundred, seventy four thousand) women in the United States alone experience physical violence by an intimate partner (this excludes mental or verbal).
FACT: 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will experience domestic violence during their lifetime.
FACT: 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
FACT: The #1 cause of death in pregnant women is murder.
FACT: Domestic violence is the 3rd leading cause of homelessness among US families.
FACT: Each year in the US, 2 MILLION injuries and 1,300 deaths are causes as a result of domestic violence. THREE women are murdered every day by an intimate partner.
FACT: 19% of domestic violence involves a weapon.
FACT: Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.
FACT: On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide
FACT: The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.
FACT: There are an average of 11 murder-suicides a week in the US. It is far more common than the public mass shootings that make national headlines.
FACT: 72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder-suicides are female.
We are a savage society when we fear acquaintances as much, if not more, than strangers. I won’t even go into the chit-chat about the syndromes and why they stay; I want to discuss how to stay alive.
There are endless articles and memes about how abusers with guns are more likely to kill women. Yes, this is true as it is merely a tool to inflict abuse. Women that own their own guns and refuse to be abused are less likely to be killed by one owned by an abuser. Think about it.
Lexington, SC’s most recent murder-suicide that took the lives of a young mother and her two children sets a tone for every FACT stated above. The only person in that scenario that had a weapon was the attacker. It took him at least two minutes to gain entry into the home. The 911 call started after he had made his presence and his intent well known so there were more than likely an additional minute or two before the call was made.
If she would have had a firearm of her own, how differently would this story have ended? Chances are it would have been a very different story about gun use. It is highly likely that she would have stopped him from entering or escalating once he entered. There would have been one dead attacker and not three dead victims.
Many students throughout the years have come to class expressing their personal reasons behind obtaining a permit, firearm and training. Top of the list is always an “ex” or some type of familiar violence. It includes men but the majority is women. As unsettling as it is to hear this, they are here! They are taking the step to be safer and more aware by arming themselves and learning how to protect them when needed, from all evils.
When dealing with threats or bad behavior, report every single incident no matter how seemingly insignificant, for they add up. If you are a witness to even the most minor of incidents or threats, report them. Your statements matter as well and when no one else is listening, show that you are paying attention. You carry, you report. You need to cover your backside just like anyone else in case your actions come into question one day. Make it clear to law enforcement when you are in fear. It needs documented and you need record of stressing your fears. Not only domestic or intimate partners can bring this founded feeling or fear. It can be a neighbor, outside associate or stranger.
If at all possible, seek restraining order or order of protection. They are not simple or easy to get in most cases. Keep trying and file reports. In Lexington for instance, it takes three incident reports and you have to file a case with a Magistrate to request a restraining order. You appear in court to plead your case and a judge may very well deny your request. There is a certain Magistrate in Lexington County that virtually refuses to issue restraining orders. It is deplorable that he ignores these situations, but you have it documented that you attempted and you continue to file reports even after court dates.
Family Court is a fresh new hell that we can debate and pick apart for hours, but we will move on. Go to the courts and seek the help you need the minute you feel threatened or placed in fear. You need a track record. This may successfully stress to the agitator that you mean business. It can work against you with the right nut but as long as you are prepared to protect yourself, press on.
If you do get a restraining order, remember, it is a piece of paper. The only good it serves is the demand to arrest the violator if law enforcement has to be called as violations are made against them. Continue to protect yourself as if that paper is just that, paper. Call and report each instance of violation. Do not drop orders out of guilt or pressure from the defendant. You are not only being manipulated, you now set yourself up to the courts as a willing participant with no voice. Starting over in the process will become even more difficult, if and when, that roller coaster starts back up.
Let law enforcement do their job. When they want to approach the person you are reporting, do not interfere or ask for leniency. Many victims fear repercussion and retaliation from their abuser, and the abuser is depending on that. Take that power away – report and stand up against them. Get to know the officers involved in your reports. Utilize their contact info when you file reports. Ask for the same officer if it is an appropriate opportunity.
If you feel your reports or pleas are going unnoticed, you have rights. Contact the department heads and then the Sheriff or Chief of Police of the department in question when you are not getting answers. If you are reporting to a town or city department, and they are failing to respond appropriately, request County departments get involved. If this does not help, reach out to The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office to file a report at 803-734-3970.
As a sincere self-preservationist, I stress the importance of learning how to protect yourself and acting upon it appropriately. Take the classes. Get the right tools and practice, practice! If you need help with training please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, please call 800-799-SAFE (800-799-7233) or go to http://www.thehotline.org. For hearing impaired 800-787-3224 (TTY). Stop The Madness!