I have moved to the most dangerous state in the nation for women.
Sure, Charleston gets all the top votes for tourist destinations, foodie towns, and friendliest, but the truth is that Charleston sits squarely within South Carolina, and, in South Carolina, a woman dies every 12 days from domestic violence.
In a recent series by the local newspaper, the Post and Courier, reporters laid out the reasons that South Carolina gets top “honors” in this shameful list. Like other states, women here fear retribution if they report domestic violence. But the Palmetto State adds the knuckle-dragging cultural remnant that deems women property and subservient to men. We also suffer with the “from my cold dead fingers” stranglehold the National Rifle Association has on legislators, where legislation forcing violent offenders to give up their guns is met with steely resistance. This despite the fact that guns are used in 65 percent of the state’s domestic violence deaths in the past ten years. Beat your dog in our state, and you can be jailed for five years (and you should be!). Beat your wife, and, if it’s your first offense, you go away for only 30 days.
South Carolina is a state where many women still live in poverty (only seven states have higher rates of women living in poverty) and few govern. With few women walking the halls of power, domestic violence victims remain faceless, other, not one of us — even though domestic violence cuts across all economic strata. As a late state representative said, “The woman ought to not be around the man…I do not understand why women continue to go back around men who abuse them.”
Without education, without putting a face on the abused women, powerful men like this will always dismiss domestic violence. Of course, the guy who made that stupendously ignorant statement is dead, so I shouldn’t pick on him, but then so are more women in South Carolina than the number of the state’s soldiers killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.
One intriguing section of the series talks about the role played by the culture of honor in the South. According to a study by a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, Southern men and Northern men react differently to perceived slights. If someone bumped into a Northern man and insulted him, he was much more likely to let it go than a Southern man, whose body flooded with stress hormones and testosterone. According to the study, Southern men fight to preserve their honor.
One woman every 12 days.
It just seems tragic that more Southern men aren’t fighting the stain on their honor caused by living in a state in which men kill women at more than twice the national average.
- My Sister’s House, 800-273-4673
- People Against Rape, 843-577-9882
- Family Court (for orders of protection), Charleston County: 843-958-4400