South Carolina’s 25th annual Silent Witness Ceremony will be held today (Tuesday, October 4, 2022) at 10:00 a.m. EDT on the south steps of the S.C. State House. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held indoors on the first floor (Room 112) of the Blatt Building on the State House grounds.
This ceremony honors and remembers victims of domestic violence during the past year. In past ceremonies, attorney general Alan Wilson has called out the names of the men and women from across the state of those who have lost their lives to domestic violence while their family member or friend walked out holding his/her silhouette while a bell was rung after each victim’s name.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years, the ceremony is very moving, important and sad,” victims rights attorney Sarah Ford said.
This ceremony is to honor those who have lost their lives, Ford said, but also to bring awareness to domestic violence.
“This is something we do not think will happen in our life, in our church, in our communities, but it affects all of us, not just one person,” she explained. “This ceremony brings attention to one of the state’s major criminal concerns and public health concerns.”
“Domestic violence is not a problem that affects one person here, it affects everyone in South Carolina,” Ford continued. “I think we’ll continue to see the problem. Domestic violence is something that often escalates. It’s important we protect victims and are understanding. It is something that can be prevented. Often victims call 9-1-1 at first, then they stop calling.”
“We have done this every year for the past 25 years,” said Robert Kittle, Wilson’s communications director. “We want to call attention to this problem. We want (victims’) loved ones to know that their loved ones are not forgotten.”
“It’s also a generational problem, kids grow up in a household where domestic violence occurs and see what’s happening,” said Kittle. “They could break the cycle by learning in school how to stop it and that’s where the solution starts.”
Friends and family of loved ones who have lost their lives to domestic violence are encouraged to attend Tuesday’s ceremony. In years past, supporters have shown up to hear the stories of those who have lost someone – holding signs, banners and wearing T-shirts in honor of their loved ones. Survivors of domestic violence and advocates can be heard sharing stories about their abusers and how domestic violence has affected their lives.
According to the latest data from the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SCCADVASA), 71 people were killed in South Carolina last year “as a result of domestic homicide.” Meanwhile, “law enforcement responded to 25,000+ incidents of simple/ aggravated assault” involving domestic partners in the Palmetto State in 2021.
“There remains an incredible amount of work to be done to end violence in South Carolina and we are committed to seeing this come to fruition through education, prevention work, and advocacy,” SCCADVASA noted in its release.
The community is invited and encouraged to attend the ceremony in person or virtually. If you cannot attend in person you can attend online on the South Carolina Attorneys General’s website, www.scag.gov.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Britney Smith is a lifelong resident of Greenville, South Carolina. An artist-turned-author, when she’s not writing for FITSNews she is working on painting her attic door.
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