By Jessica Connor
South Carolina ranks second in the nation for women killed by men, according to the Violence Policy Center. Of homicide victims who knew their offenders, 68 percent were murdered by a husband, common-law husband, ex-husband or boyfriend.
I repeat: Second in the nation.
This is unacceptable. And it’s high time we as a state, and as a United Methodist Church, woke up to the fact that this isn’t someone else’s problem. It’s our problem. It isn’t just a news story, an abstract sad tale about some woman on the wrong side of tracks. It affects every community, every neighborhood, every race, class, color and creed. And this month, in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Advocate urges every United Methodist in South Carolina to stop thinking this problem happens to someone else and start thinking about what you can do to help a sister—or even a brother—in crisis.
We urge you to get educated about what domestic violence entails. Visit websites such as the S.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (www. sccadvasa.org) and consider holding a workshop or awareness event at your church.
Surprising to many is that domestic violence is far more than physical violence—and that the emotional indicators could very well be a gateway to deadly physical violence down the road. Abusers will use intimidation (making her afraid with looks and gestures), emotional abuse (putting her down or making her think she’s crazy), isolation (limiting her access to friends and family), minimizing and blaming (making light of the abuse), using the children (including guilt), economic abuse (taking her money or not letting her know about or have access to family income), using threats and coercion (threatening to leave her or commit suicide), and more.
Abusers often have a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” personality and exhibit extreme jealousy, low self-esteem, manipulation and controlling behavior.
If you know someone who is experiencing this, encourage her to get help, or seek help yourself. Many women are embarrassed or afraid about taking the next steps.
Imagine what Jesus would do in this situation, and remember that this is another way we can be His hands and feet in the world.
• Domestic violence is the leading cause of injuries to women age 15 to 44, more common than auto accidents, mugging, and cancer combined
• At least 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women
• One in four women will experience domestic violence during their lifetime
• Approximately one in five female high school students reports being abused by a boyfriend
• As many as 324,000 women each year experience intimate partner violence during their pregnancy
• On average, three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country every day
• 65 percent of DV homicide victims had separated from their abusers prior to their deaths
—Courtesy S.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233)