Domestic violence vigil urges support of Mary’s House

Ben Robinson/Courier

Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark speaks at a rally held last Tuesday at the Pickens County Courthouse.

By Ben Robinson

Courier Staff

County — Too often the problem of an abused partner in a domestic partnership is ignored by society. But volunteers for Mary’s House, the Pickens County shelter for victims of spousal abuse gathered last Tuesday night in front of the Pickens County Courthouse to help make sure these victims are heard in their suffering.

Volunteers and supporters for the shelter gathered for a prayer vigil for domestic violence.

Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark, who has been a longtime supporter of Mary’s House and related projects, said the organization’s battle against domestic violence could only be solved through prayer, though he quickly added that the shelter also accepts donations.

From his years working in law enforcement, Clark has experience dealing with domestic violence situations.

“It breaks my heart to go back to the same people over and over again,” Clark said. “We would never advocate divorce, but we would never advocate for a female in an abusive situation to allow herself and her children to remain in danger.”

Sen. Larry Martin called Mary’s House an “on-going necessary place.”

Martin noted that South Carolina ranks No. 1 in the nation in incidents of domestic violence.

“I would like to think that is because we do a better job of reporting incidents, but I know that is not the case,” Martin said.

Martin said that victims sometime place partial blame on themselves. That is unfortunate, he added.

“The point is that you don’t have to put up with that,” Martin said. “That is not the way normal people live. Our society will not tolerate that. There is a better way.”

Martin said he is sometimes embarrassed about the state funding that does not find its place to fight domestic violence.

He added that people need to make their feelings clear to their elected officials.

“Are you doing all that you can about domestic violence?” Martin asked. “This is something that cuts across all economic lines and lines of education. But it often reflects what is in our hearts and in our minds.”

Debbie Bridges called domestic violence “a preventable problem in America.”

“South Carolina had more than double the national rate for incidents of domestic violence,” Bridges said. “We have been in the top 10 states nationally for the past 10 years. In South Carolina last year, 48 people were killed by their partners — 38 females and 10 males. Yet SouthCarolina has less than 10 domestic violence shelters.”