Domestic incidents rise around holidays, more seek help at first - | WBTV Charlotte

Domestic incidents rise around holidays, more seek help at first of year

James Diago (Courtesy York County Jail) James Diago (Courtesy York County Jail)

ROCK HILL, SC (WBTV) - Jane Alleva picks up the phone with the usual greeting. "Safe Passages. This is Jane. Are you in a safe place? Yes? Then tell me what's going on."

It's a phone call that could change the life of the person on the other end of the line.

"Having to rethink your identity is unfair because you're the victim," Alleva said. But the alternative could be worse.

Alleva works as the interim executive director at Safe Passage, Inc. The organization helps a victim realize if they're in a bad, toxic or dangerous relationship. It's called a danger assessment. Victims will answer questions like "Has the physical violence increased in severity or frequency over the past year?" Then workers create a plan for a person to safely leave that situation.

"We've thought about all the avenues..what if they show up at work, at school, what if they show up at the apartment? What will you do?..It really has to be the victim's decision to go for help.it seems so easy to say get away from him, he's a terrible person or it could be the opposite. A lot of our abusers are charming," Alleva said.

Alleva says more domestic violence related incidents happen around the holidays. Then come January and February, the organization will be busy with victims seeking help - wanting to start fresh in a new year.

For a lot of victims, that's the scariest part.

"For so many of our victims they've been isolated or convinced that they're the crazy one. No one's going to believe I've done these things to you. So if they can know they're not alone and take that first step," Alleva said.

South Carolina ranks as one of the worst states for domestic violence. The mortality rate for victims is also one of the highest in the country. Alleva says every time she hears or reads about a situtation like the shooting of 34-year-old Jackie Craine in Ft. Mill, she tries to use it as a learning situation.

"To see how we can help the next victim so that no other victim loses their life."

Police think Craine's ex-boyfriend James Diago is the person who pulled the trigger.

"We feel like every loss is our loss too and we mourn that loss," Alleva said.

Safe Passages serves York, Chester and Lancaster counties.

24-hour hotline: 803-329-2800 or www.safepassagesc.org.

Toll-free hotline: 1-800-659-0977

National domestic violence hotline: 1-800-799-7233

Copyright 2012 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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