Orangeburg, SC (WLTX) - October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and on Thursday night dozens gathered at the Edisto Memorial Gardens in Orangeburg to remember victims.
"Domestic violence is a community problem and it will require a community response,” says Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter.
For years, South Carolina has ranked at the top of the national list for the number of domestic violence homicides. Once ranked at number one, now we're 5th, but there is still work to be done.
"So far we have serviced 200 cases of domestic violence in the city of Orangeburg, " says Karen Sanders, victim advocate for the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety.
Sanders says advocacy programs are brining those numbers down.
"If we can work together to stop this epidemic of domestic violence I think we can not be in that top five statistic, we can try to do better."
"To be able to bring families together, especially those who have lost their loved ones, it really is a symbol and a token to them to know that we didn't forget,” says Chandra McPherson, director of victim services for the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Department.
Families held a candlelight vigil, where people wore purple, and said the names of the people they lost to domestic violence.
Jacqueline Aiken is remembering her ex-husband Daniel. She says his life was taken back in April by his girlfriend.
While it has been difficult for Aiken and her family, she finds comfort in knowing that there are victim's advocates there to help.
"We're not in it by ourselves,” says Aiken. “This is our first time experiencing this, but Ashley checks on us all the time.”
McPherson says male victims of domestic violence can be under reported.
"What we try to do in all of our entities, be it a boy or a girl, be it male or female, is let you know that your voice counts."
If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can call the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Department at (803) 534-3550, or the National Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.