The Democratic Party’s candidate for governor says South Carolina needs to do more to lower the state’s domestic violence rate.
A recent study by the Violence Policy Center ranked South Carolina sixth in its rate of women killed by men. State Rep. James Smith, D-Richland, attended the Silent Witness Ceremony Tuesday at the South Carolina Statehouse.
“Being number six is not, at all, where we should be,” Smith said after the ceremony.
Smith said he and running mate State Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell have been visiting service organizations and shelters which help domestic violence victims across the state to develop a strategy for addressing the issue.
“Several things we need to do: we need — have available access to more shelters. We need more programs that help young people see what healthy relationships are like,” he said.
Smith also said he would like to have all degrees of domestic violence tried by solicitors in circuit courts to protect the confidentiality of domestic violence victims and advocates.
“There’s some good things happening in our state that are helping to provide access to resources for victims, give them tools and resources they need to get to a place of freedom and that’s the type of work we’re going to do,” Smith said. “We need access to more services for victims and so how can we support our domestic violence centers, our CACs (children’s advocacy centers) out there, which need support from the state and also the support of local law enforcement? Then we’re going to find ways to reduce the incidences of domestic violence.”
Smith said for some domestic violence victims, resources and shelters are not easily accessible. “There’s some areas in our state where victims have to travel two hours, an hour-and-a-half, to get to their shelter. So we just don’t have enough resources out there to deal with domestic violence in our state,” he said.
Smith said it was important to attend the Silent Witness Ceremony on Tuesday, which honored 40 female and male victims of domestic violence last year.
“It really is important to show our community and our state how pervasive this is and how we must address it and how we must deliver on the resources needed to reduce domestic violence in our state,” Smith said.