Vigil held in Hilton Head for domestic violence awareness

In song, holding candles, and by reading the names of South Carolinian’s killed from domestic violence, Citizens Opposed to Domestic Abuse (CODA) raised awareness for what they call a huge problem.

“Speaking from personal experience, it has had its troubles and tribulations with me but also its triumphs. I did witness my mother in abusive relationship after abusive relationship, my entire childhood,” CODA volunteer Sherri Davis said.

Some of her first memories involve paramedics helping her mother, who was stabbed by her father. Her family was able to get help from area shelters.

“I feel that if it weren’t for those volunteers and those staff members and those resources, I don’t know that we would have been okay in those situations,” Davis said.

Solicitor Duffie Stone says domestic violence is the state’s biggest crime problem. A recent state law makes some changes to the way offenders are prosecuted, inlcuding trying them in the same court as murderers, rapists and robbers.

“That’s important, because prior to this legislation, domestic violence the lowest level of domestic violence cases had to be prosecuted in magistrate’s court and there were literally defendants being prosecuted in the same courtroom as speeders,” Stone said.

There’s also a stiffer penalty if a child is present in the home.

“I think that’s important, because what we see in our family courts throughout South Carolina and even in our adult courts as well, we are seeing young men beating not only their girlfriends, but their mothers,” Stone says.

Davis encourages anyone in an abusive relationship or situation to seek help. The CODA 24 hour hotline is 1-800-868-CODA.

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