Comments made during the election campaign once again raised concerns that there is a domestic violence crisis in South Carolina and not enough is being done to tackle it.
The Greenville News reported on how Independent candidate Tom Ervin and the leader of an Upstate domestic violence agency both criticized Gov. Nikki Haley's views on domestic violence after she failed during last month's debate to support the idea of a state ban on firearms for people who are convicted of domestic violence.
Ervin accused the South Carolina governor for being "tone deaf" on the domestic violence issue after she refused to say last month that she would support legislation to ban firearms for those convicted of criminal domestic violence.
Reports of the debate stated Haley said that although she supported tougher penalties for those convicted of domestic violence as well as the state ban on firearms for those judged to be mentally ill, the issue of domestic violence is "cultural and generational." A day after the debate, her spokesman clarified her remarks, saying she would support a state law enforcing a federal firearms ban for those convicted of such crimes.
It was not enough to stop Ervin and Haley's Democratic challenger, Sen. Vincent Sheheen, accusing the governor of flip-flopping on the issue. Haley subsequently won re-election but not before Ervin had accused her of having "miserable record in addressing the crisis of domestic violence in South Carolina."
He told The Greenville News the governor had demonstrated a failure of leadership in refusing to answer the question about domestic violence during the debate and in ignoring the victims of domestic violence while the state is near the top of the nation, "ranked second in the deaths of women stemming from criminal domestic violence."
Becky Callaham, executive director of Safe Harbor, a Greenville-based non-profit that provides shelter and counseling for victims of domestic violence, also criticized Haley's response.
"To say that domestic violence is just a generational and a cultural problem is an over-simplification, and it shows Governor Haley's lack of understanding about this significant and pervasive problem," she said.
Earlier this year we noted how domestic violence was described as a "crisis" in South Carolina. The website of Attorney General Alan Wilson noted that more than 36,000 victims every year report a domestic violence incident to law enforcement agencies in South Carolina. Over the past 13 years, an average of 33 women have been killed each year by their intimate partner.
The courts in Columbia take allegations of domestic violence very seriously given the scale of the problem, and are prepared to take rapid action to protect the victims and punish the offenders. If you have been subjected to any type of physical violence or sexual abuse on the part of a spouse, partner or other household member, a Columbia divorce attorney from Masella Law Firm, P.A. can help you bring a petition to court to secure an order of protection. Call us at 803.748.9990.