Silent Witness Ceremony Honors Domestic Violence Victims

Post and Courier

As South Carolina continues to grapple with an unusually high rate of women murdered by men, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson on Tuesday commemorated 34 women and five men who lost their lives due to domestic violence in 2016.

In a somber "Silent Witness" ceremony on the steps of the Statehouse — the 20th annual event — Wilson named each of the 2016 victims and described what happened to them.

Each victim was represented by a cardboard silhouette that emerged as they were called. The last victim called was labeled "unknown," as Wilson asked for a moment of silence to "remember those victims of whom we are unaware."

Wilson praised a comment from Tree of Life Congregation Rabbi Eric Mollo, who said in his opening benediction, "We are here to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable."

"For those who are going through this or have a loved one who has suffered through domestic violence, I hope that, while brief, this ceremony will provide you some level of comfort," Wilson added. "For the rest of us, I hope it will continue to disturb us into action."

Wilson has taken on greater authority over domestic violence issues this year after the Legislature approved his calls to consolidate state domestic violence efforts within the attorney general's office. 

"Before, people would have to go to different agencies in different buildings to get different types of victim services," Wilson said. "Now, it's all housed in the office of the attorney general, which basically streamlines it."

Another added benefit, Wilson said, is that victims are getting "focused attention by a statewide constitutional officer," increasing the program's accountability.

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