Silent Witness ceremony remember South Carolina lives lost to domestic violence
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — As he led the 24th annual Silent Witness ceremony at the state house, Attorney General Alan Wilson reminded people that domestic violence impacts those from all walks of life and in all parts of the state.
The ceremony honored the 39 South Carolinians who lost their lives to domestic violence in the past year.
“I don’t know if you ever heal because the struggle has been a daily struggle since the day it occurred,” said Mel Morris, a man who lost his mother to domestic violence.
Morris’ mother was killed by a man she was living with in Myrtle Beach in May of last year.
“Yeah, it comes out of nowhere,” he said. “Most of us are living on the other side of a drape or curtain so to speak. We’re not even aware that it’s going on or if is is, to what degree.”
A month earlier here in Columbia, the Richbow family lost both Sarah Mae and Kiara. They were killed at a home during a domestic violence incident.
“It rocked our family. It’s still rocking our family. Period,” said Colette Jones, a woman who lost her aunt and cousin in the incident last April.
The tragic shooting of their loved ones has greatly impacted their family but they remember the good things about those lost.
“My aunt always had a crazy joke and my cousin, Kiara, really loved her children,” Jones said. “The best thing we can continue to do is live out the legacy of love and laughter that they left behind for us to walk out daily.”
Just over a year ago in Greenville, a mother lost her daughter. She remembers the last conversation she had with her.
“She said ‘I’m on my way home.’ I said ‘Call me as soon as you pull up,’” remembers Rhonda Thompson, who lost her daughter Antwanaza.
The next call she got was life changing. It was the news that her daughter had been killed by her husband.
She had often advised her daughter to work out her marriage but now says there are warning signs for when you should leave.
“They start pulling you away from family and things that you love. Once you lose yourself,” Thompson said.
It’s hard for those left behind to cope with the sadness of losing someone to domestic violence but Thompson says she does so for her grandson.
“I know I got to go on,” she said. “If I stop, who’s going to be there for him? I know there’s people around but she left him for me. That’s what I’m going to do but trust me, it’s hard every day.”
Others find their own ways of coping.
“God. That’s the only answer I can give you,” Jones said. “Only God. One day at a time.”
“I’m going to advocate because frankly, there’s still holes in the legal system,” Morris said.
He and other family members present today hope that today’s ceremony will help break the cycle of abuse that has impacted communities is all parts of South Carolina.
“Let other domestic violence victims know they’re not alone,” Jones said. “They’re not victims, they’re victorious.”
Attorney General Alan Wilson says he and other members of law enforcement worry that the pandemic has increased instances of domestic violence.
He advises anyone to contact law enforcement if they or someone they love is a victim of domestic violence.