Written by Mercedes Purington and Kyrsten Pringle
South Carolina ranks in the top 5 for domestic violence and sexual assault in the nation. The state has also been ranked in the top ten for top deadliest state for women or most women killed by men for the last 21 years (Duncan). These statistics are alarming and detrimental to all the women who live in our beloved state. Our state is facing a crisis against women, which many people are unaware of, but it happens.
Safe Harbor representative Amanda Callahan came to talk to TEENS4Hope at our February meeting to talk about domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and human trafficking, and how it is evident in the state of South Carolina. As teens, entering the world independently and beginning to start dating, it is important to know what a healthy relationship looks like and the warning signs of a bad one. The infographic below depicts signs of a healthy and an unhealthy relationship.
One of the first steps in changing how we are treated is enforcing and teaching our partners how we expect to be treated. If we continue to let the “unhealthy signs” of our relationship continue, (ie: abuse, control, isolation etc. listed in the picture on the right) it can lead to dating violence.
As many of the us are preparing ourselves for college and others who are heading there soon, sexual assault is a big concern for us as women. One in five women experience sexual assault on college campuses; 19 out of 20 of these cases go unreported. Additionally, about 75% of these cases occur under the influence of alcohol (NSVRC). Going to college is scary, but what makes it scarier is the fear of being violated. A lot of these crimes go unreported, a lot of the cases have bystanders who did nothing about it, and many of the acts are known about by multiple people. When going to college this year, the next, or a few down the road, it is important to be alert and report actions of sexual assault to authorities and go to the hospital if needed to stop these violent crimes against women, before it happens again.
So one of the most common questions is, “what is domestic abuse?” Many people think that domestic violence is purely physical abuse and can be easily seen in a relationship; however, this is simply not true. Oftentimes, women in abusive relationships do not even realize that they are being abused until it is too late. “The common depiction of abuse is black eyes and bruises. That happens, but, it’s important to know domestic violence can take other forms like emotional or psychological, sexual, financial and/or spiritual abuse” (DomesticShelters.org).
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of race, gender, nationality, religion, etc. Like I said earlier, around half of women in our country are abused by their partner at some point in their lives, so one of the most important things to know is how to recognize abusive situations.
Women’s Advocates, the first domestic violence shelter in the nation, lists the following as common “red flags” of abusive relationships:
- “Pushing for quick involvement: comes on strong, claiming, “I’ve never felt love like this by anyone.”
- Jealousy: excessively possessive; calls constantly or visits unexpectedly; prevents you from going to work because “you might meet someone.”
- Controlling Behavior: interrogates you intensely (especially if you’re late) about whom you talked to and where you were; keeps all the money; insists you ask permission to do anything.
- Unrealistic expectations: expects you to be the perfect mate and meet his or her every need.
- Isolation: tries to cut you off from family and friends; accuses people who support you of “causing trouble.”
- Blaming others for problems or mistakes: it’s always someone else’s fault when anything goes wrong.
- Making others responsible for his or her feelings: the abuser says, “You make me angry,” instead of “I am angry,” or says, “You’re hurting me by not doing what I tell you.”
- Hypersensitivity: is easily insulted, claiming hurt feelings when he or she is really mad.
- Cruelty to animals or children: kills or punishes animals brutally. Also, may expect children to do things that are far beyond their ability (whips a 3-year-old for wetting a diaper) or may tease them until they cry.
- Use of force during sex: enjoys throwing you down or holding you down against your will during sex.
- Verbal abuse: constantly criticizes or says blatantly cruel, hurtful things, degrades, curses, calls you ugly names.
- Rigid roles: expects you to serve, obey and remain at home.
- Sudden mood swings: switches from sweet to violent in minutes.
- Past battering: admits to hitting a mate in the past, but says the person “made” him (or her) do it.
- Threats of violence: says things like, “I’ll break your neck,” or “I’ll kill you,” and then dismisses them with, “I didn’t really mean it.”
- Controlling behaviors using social media or technology” (Women’s Advocates).
Domestic violence is not something that only victims should be worried about—If you know someone who is in a domestic violence situation, offer support and provide necessary resources to that person. If you yourself are in an abusive relationship, call 309-343-7233; this is the number for Safe Harbor, a domestic violence shelter. Please know that there are resources and people out there that want to help you.
Ms. Callahan was very informative and educated the members of TEENS4Hope, inspiring us to be a part of the change our state needs. In order to end these heinous acts against women we need to stand up as women, together. If you or someone you know is or has been a victim to the above crimes above please contact the authorities or an adult immediately. If you ever need someone to talk to anonymous and confidential please contact the crisis line or national suicide line at (800) 273-TALK (8255) or TEXT CRISIS LINE TO 839863.
South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault defines the following:
Domestic Violence: the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another
Sexual Assault: any type of forced or coerced sexual contact or behavior that happens without consent. Sexual assault includes rape and attempted rape, child molestation, groping, forced kissing and sexual harassment or threats. Sexual assault is a crime of power and control.
Dating Violence: the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking. It can occur in person or electronically and might occur between a current or former dating partner. Dating violence affects all age groups, but is often most thought of in connection with teens.
Human Trafficking: modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. As with the aforementioned crimes, trafficking is hidden as victims rarely come forward to seek help because of language barriers, fear of the traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement.
“Domestic Abuse Topline Facts and Statistics.” DomesticShelters.org, Domesticshelters.org, www.domesticshelters.org/resources/statistics/domestic-abuse-topline-facts-and-statistics.
Duncan, Charles. “South Carolina Tops the List of Deadliest States for Women 21 Years in a Row.” Thestate, The State, 2 Oct. 2018, www.thestate.com/news/state/south-carolina/article219317295.html.
“Get Statistics.” National Sexual Violence Resource Center, www.nsvrc.org/statistics.
“Warning Signs of Abuse.” Women's Advocates, www.wadvocates.org/find-help/about-domestic-violence/warning-signs-of-abuse/.