25th annual Silent Witness Ceremony honors victims of domestic violence
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO)— The 25th annual Silent Witness Ceremony took place at the State House this morning, honoring lives lost to domestic violence.
Attorney General Alan Wilson led the ceremony, calling the names of 37 women and 12 men from across South Carolina who lost their lives as the result of domestic violence in 2021.
As names were read, cutouts representing each person were brought onto the state house steps. A 50th purple silhouette represented potential unknown victims.
Tina Torres, a survivor of domestic abuse, created the “She Did That Community Advocate Foundation” to help individuals and families experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault, and victims of human trafficking.
“There are others out there who really need to know that someone cares and that we really are here to help them. For them to know that where they are currently is not their final destination and that it is our goal to help them get where they are to where they want to go,” says Torres.
Lizzie Bellamy lost her daughter, Lasha Rowell, to domestic violence last year. She wants others to know there is a way out.
“Reach out. Reach out. There is someone that will listen. There is someone that will help you. Just reach out to those services. And just grab hold and live your life,” says Bellamy.
The Violence Policy Center reports that South Carolina ranked 23rd in the nation in the rate of men killing women. In 2015, South Carolina ranked number one in the country.
Attorney General Alan Wilson says 23rd is still not a good number but that outreach programs and education initiatives are helping.
“I do believe that education is playing a vital role in letting people know that when they’re trapped in an abusive relationship, there is a way to get out of that relationship, ” says Attorney General Wilson.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline reported answering over 400,000 calls, texts, and chats in 2021.
“It’s not the end. If you’re in a domestic violence relationship, just reach out. There are organizations. Create your safety plan and don’t let anything deter you from using that safety plan because your story could go the way my daughter’s story went,” says Bellamy.
You can reach The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.