“When I graduated law school, our state was number one in the nation for women who are murdered by men in intimate partner relationships.
As the state’s first Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Director, my challenge was to develop collaborative, multidisciplinary domestic violence protocols and curricula for law enforcement, solicitors, judges, and victim advocates…a new, innovative approach to a crime that has traditionally been viewed by some as a private family matter.
Working closely with Republicans and Democrats, I developed a framework infused with compassion, transparency, and accountability, that still supports domestic violence survivors today. Thanks to a Republican SC Attorney General and Democratic U.S. Senator, my team and I were empowered through the Violence Against Women Act to take the burden of prosecution off the victim and put it back on the state where it belongs.
Domestic Violence, although not a partisan or political issue, remains one of SC’s most pervasive and least reported violent crimes.
That reality hit home for me personally, when my cousin Zelda was gunned down by her ex-fiancé at her Columbia, SC home. She had recently retired from her state job in SC and taken a job in NC to try and distance herself from him after breaking off their engagement. Even though she sought and received an order of protection, he was still stalking and threatening her. But, because she had a legal document in place, she thought she would be okay…Zelda thought she could handle the situation by herself. I so wish she had known she didn’t have to.
When we finally break the silence about domestic violence, we’ll begin to break the vicious cycles that are still hurting and killing SC women at an alarming rate.
Recently, South Carolina was ranked #6 in the nation for women killed by men. The COVID-19 pandemic brought economic hardship, isolation, and according to law enforcement reports– a foreseeable rise in domestic violence. Those numbers will likely continue to climb as we head into the holiday season.
That’s why organizations like SCCADVASA, the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, are so impactful. As SCCADVASA commemorates its 40th anniversary this year, we’re reminded of how far we’ve come and how much more we must do to help bring these vicious cycles of violence to an end.
As Governor, I’ll continue to prioritize this issue and do everything I can to help South Carolinians who are suffering. Addressing the systemic factors that create unsafe environments must be our collective and collaborative approach. Working together, we can save precious lives and build safer communities.”
If you or someone you love is in an abusive relationship and needs help, call the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Helpline at: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
About Senator Mia McLeod:
Senator Mia McLeod is a working mom, small business owner and seventh-generation South Carolinian from Bennettsville, South Carolina. She is a former State Representative, current State Senator representing SC District 22, and recently announced her historic bid as a Democratic candidate for Governor. Visit MiaForSC.com for more info.
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