UNION — The Men and Women on a Mission/AAA student group at USC Union hosted a round table discussion this week about domestic violence.
The guest speaker for the round table was Sheriff David Taylor. Taylor said when he began working with the Union County Sheriff’s Office in 1981, he never imagined that domestic violence would become such a common problem.
Taylor said South Carolina ranks second in the nation when it comes to women killed by men, and he talked about the murder case he worked, beginning with his second day as sheriff on Jan. 7, 2009. Maria Fernandez went missing in September 2008, and her body was found four months later. Taylor said the solicitor’s office — particularly Solicitor Kevin Brackett and Deputy Solicitor John Anthony — was excellent. He also said that during Jamel Good’s trial for Fernandez’s murder, the judge said a child witnessed the murder of a parent and he (the judge) couldn’t find it in his heart to show the defendant any mercy.
Taylor pointed out that there were 632 domestic dispute calls in Union County from Jan. 1, 2011 to Oct. 1, 2011. This year, from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1, there were 696 domestic dispute calls.
“Before 9 a.m. this morning, our officers had already answered a domestic dispute call,” Taylor said.
Taylor said he is often asked by the media what can be attributed to the alarming increase in domestic violence.
“Bottom line — there is no excuse,” he said. “Domestic violence is real, and it’s something we have to deal with.”
A USC Union student who was a victim of domestic violence shared her personal testimony. She said her husband started trying bath salts because it would not show up on a drug test at work. She said after they separated, he eventually broke into the house, cut himself and wrote on the walls using blood. He also killed the family’s German shepherd. He attacked his then-wife, biting her, and threatened to tie her up, kill their children and then kill her.
“I didn’t want people to know because I thought it would look bad on me that I was married to a psycho,” she said. “Nobody in my family knew until I filed for divorce. Sheriff Taylor and Safe Homes have been behind me 100 percent.”
The student said she is no longer afraid to share her story, and she encouraged others to speak out if they knew of such a situation.
“It’s not your fault,” she said.
Taylor encouraged anyone who knows of someone suffering from domestic violence to report the situation. He mentioned that women are sometimes scared they will be harmed if they report the situation.
“Don’t think that you have to live in these situations,” Taylor said. “There are programs that can be utilized to get you out of these situations.”
Taylor then reiterated his previous message.
“There’s alcohol; there’s drugs; there’s unemployment, but there is no excuse.”
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.