Domestic Violence Victims in South Carolina: GET OUT!
Domestic Violence and Physical Cruelty
Divorce in South Carolina
By M. J. Goodwin
The news has been full of incidents of domestic violence in recent days. From the murder/suicide at the University of South Carolina, to the shootings in Upstate South Carolina, it seems that men and women are having difficulty with regulating their emotions and behavior in difficult relationships. This is a tragedy that results in criminal charges, orphaned children and death. It doesn’t have to be this way.
If you are in an abusive relationship, leave. There is no reason to stay. That bears repeating: IF YOU ARE BEING PHYSICALLY ABUSED, LEAVE. GET OUT NOW. There is no reason to stay. I hear countless individuals say that she (usually, but sometimes he) stayed “for the children.” Children don’t need to be in a violent home. So that is not a valid reason to stay. I hear individuals say that they didn’t want their spouse to “get me on abandonment.” That is not a legally feasible position for the abuser and not a reason to stay. I hear individuals say that they don’t want to leave the house, the furniture, the pets, etc. Again, that is not a reason to stay. If you are being abused, if you are afraid of your spouse or partner, get out now. If you need help, call 911. Cooperate with the police and the prosecution. Do not make excuses for the abuser. Do not be too proud or vain to go to a shelter. The shelters exist to help you.
If you are the abuser, you know it. You know if you have hit or shoved your spouse or partner. It wasn’t your spouse’s fault. It was all on you. But you can get help. The Family Counseling Center on Shockley Ferry Road in Anderson, SC offers a wonderful, effective 26 week program called STEAR: Striving to End Abusive Relationships. I have actually had criminal defendants call and thank me for referring them to that program. Whether your spouse remains with you or not, get help. It is not OK to physically assault your significant other. And you know that.
Victims of abuse can be male or female. Often male victims are hesitant to say they are victims. Even if you don’t want to say you are a victim, leave the situation. There are other legal avenues for divorce and separation. If the embarrassment is too great, just tell the lawyer. A good lawyer will give you options and help you out of the relationship.
Get a lawyer immediately. This may mean borrowing money from family or friends. That may mean finally telling the truth about your spouse. Do that. You need to do that. If there is no money for a lawyer, you may need to go to Legal Services. It may mean filing for an Order of Protection on your own. There is a lot of help available.
I find that persons in abusive relationships are often so defeated by their circumstances that they are unable to think outside the relationship. This is a travesty. Get help, get advice and follow it. You do not have to be in an abusive relationship. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that the “serious” violence won’t happen to you. This situations get out of control in an instant, and people die.
You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org I can typically respond to email inquiries within twelve (12) hours.