Lander University students, faculty and staff took part in a weeklong series of activities focused on the problem of domestic violence, especially in South Carolina.
A recent report by the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C., said S.C. has the worst rate of homicide involving men killing women. The most recent data collected by the FBI showed that, in 2011, 61 women were murdered in South Carolina, most of them at the hands of their husbands or boyfriends. The Center said the female homicide rate was more than double the national average.
Lander’s observance concluded today with a program titled Futures without Violence featuring speakers including two domestic violence survivors. Angela Lee asked, “What does domestic violence look like?” She recounted the several years of physical abuse she endured beginning when she was 13 years old. She told the crowd, “I am the face of domestic violence. I am the voice of domestic violence.”
Dr. Alice Hodges, executive director of Meg’s House, in Greenwood, which provides shelter and other services for victims of domestic abuse, said, with more than two months left in 2013, Meg’s has provided shelter for 249 women and answered more than 1,500 calls to the agency’s help line.
Other speakers pointed to statistics showing that, each year, an average of 36,000 women report being subjected to domestic abuse in South Carolina. Burton Runyon, Hope Program case manager at Meg’s House, said, “We’ve got to change the culture and stop romanticizing abuse in music and films.”
Two Lander students recited a battered-women’s bill of rights and a dater’s bill of rights, while a third student read a personal pledge to end domestic violence.
Lt. Gregg Allen of Lander’s Police Department said the department’s goal is to reduce crime, promote safety on the campus and support programs to prevent domestic violence. “We keep our officers knowledgeable on the subject of prevention and the appropriate care for domestic violence victims.”
The observance concluded with a closing prayer by Pastor Scott Smith of Lander’s Baptist Collegiate Ministry.