South Carolina ranks high for domestic violence

South Carolina ranks number one when it comes to men killing women. That's according to data released this week by the Violence Policy Center.

"It's not surprising, we've always been ranked pretty high," said Safe Passage Inc. Executive Director

Safe Passage is an organization that provides services to domestic violence victims.

Charley was not stunned when the Violence Policy Center ranked South Carolina number one for domestic violence deaths in the US.

In 2011, 61 women were killed by men in the Palmetto State.

The state had a rate of 2.54 woman killed per 100,000 by men. That's more than double the nation's average.

Some groups are now pushing for stiffer punishments for domestic violence offenders, but advocates and legal experts agree that won't help the problem.

"Laws can only do so much. There has to be a public movement amongst all the citizens in South Carolina to say 'we don't want our state ranked this way anymore'," said Charley.

"A simple solution such as increasing penalties or making them do hard time has never been a solution to any societal ill," said Rock Hill criminal defense attorney Gary Lemel.

Lemel says a cookie cutter punishment for offenders won't curb behavior.

He suggests court ordered counseling and other alternatives on case by case basis.

"Those of us who deal with these cases on the regular basis know that the lack of ability to craft a solution ties our hands in reaching effective solutions," said Lemel.

As for Charlie, she says if you do find yourself in an abusive situation, the best advice is to leave and seek help from organizations like hers.

"We have to put more focus on victims in our communities and we have to provide more support for those victims," said Charley.

It may be the difference between life and death.

Charley say the most dangerous time for an abuse victim is the period when they are preparing to leave.

She suggests contacting a domestic violence agency to develop a plan to leave the relationship safely.

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