Awareness of the impact of Domestic Violence is critical, as is educating the public as to its effects is essential in ending the cycle of violence.

— In this country a women is beaten every 9 seconds

— Domestic Violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 and exceeds car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.

–There is a fifty percent chance that Child Abuse and sexual assault of children will take place in homes where domestic violence occurs.

In Richland County, we have made great strides toward awareness of domestic violence and victimization of individuals. We have one of the finest domestic violence shelters in the state that provides services on a daily basis to victims. Each of our criminal courts has victim advocates that provide services and referrals for victims of domestic violence, addressing their needs throughout the criminal process. We have a Domestic Violence Collaborative/Task Force, which meets on a regular basis and is working to address ongoing issues in this field.

However, more work is needed. From my experience as a prosecutor and private legal practitioner, I have witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of domestic violence both on the individual and upon the community. I have represented the victims of domestic violence both on the criminal side and the civil side of court proceedings and understand the impact of this crime upon the family.

One way we can help prevent domestic violence is to change the way we talk about relationships. We need to change the conversation. Throughout the month of October we hope to spark conversations about healthy relationships. We want to encourage everyone – in their homes, neighborhoods, schools, faith communities and workplaces – to proactively engage in dialogue that promotes safety, respect and equality. We can spread the word and prevent domestic violence.

We also need to continue with effective intervention. The keys to effective intervention are:

VICTIM FOCUSED SERVICES – My office, just like the Shelter, provides these services on a daily basis through resources received from the Attorney General’s Office and other sources. Early intervention is imperative when a victim enters into the criminal justice system and the Richland County Prosecutor’s Office strives to assist victims as soon as possible.

PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATIONS – These are not only necessary between public offices but also between public offices and the private sector. The more involvement in awareness that the community provides, the more educated victims and future victims will become.

OFFENDER ACCOUNTABILITY – This community currently has available offender treatment programs, but sending offenders to a treatment program should not be the end of the process. There needs to be follow-up to insure attendance and completion of the program, as well as continued involvement by the individuals in the legal process to prevent re-occurring violence after treatment.

COMMUNITY ACCOUNTABILITY – Bringing attention to circumstances when the process fails, whether it is by ongoing violence in the same home or the death of a victim, and learning from our mistakes, will hopefully prevent future violence and bring an end to the cycle of violence in our homes. Engaging the entire community in the conversation and the education process is the key to end the cycle of violence.

As Richland County Prosecutor, I would ask you to commit yourself to assisting in some aspect of this process. Whether it is as a volunteer at the Shelter or assisting in the education process, your help is greatly needed. Please consider providing your support and moving our community forward.
by Bambi Couch Page
Richland County Prosecutor