Protecting clients facing domestic violence in York, Lancaster, and Chester Counties
While both men and women can be victims, in South Carolina, domestic violence is the primary killer of women looking to escape an abusive situation. The issue has become so prevalent that our current governor, Henry McMaster, sought to create the domestic violence task force during his time as South Carolina Attorney General; it was enacted by former Governor Nikki Haley in 2015.
Whether you are an abused spouse, or your significant other is behaving in a violent or threatening manner towards your children, getting you to safety is my top priority. At Holland Law, we ensure you have access to the resources you need, and put the full power of the law behind you. Contact us in Fort Mill or Rock Hill today to learn how we can help.
How prevalent is domestic violence in South Carolina?
For the last twenty years, South Carolina has ranked in the Top 10 most deadly states for women; in 2017, data showed that SC ranked 5th in the nation for women who are murdered by men.
The number of children who are abused and neglected in their homes is also rising. Between 2017 and 2018, The Herald reported, “more than 20,000 children were a part of nearly 11,000 confirmed cases of child abuse across the state, according to S.C. DSS. Of those children, 660 were from York County, 554 were from Lancaster County and 207 were from Chester County.”
So significant are the numbers surrounding the abuse or women and children that it is difficult to find data about how many men are subjected to domestic violence each year – but that does not mean it doesn't happen. A recent article published in The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery states that one in nine men is a victim of “intimate partner violence.”
What are the signs of domestic violence in South Carolina?
Not all abuse is physical, but in many cases it will become physical. What you need to know is this: the abuse is not your fault.
Nor it is your fault if you did not know your loved one was a victim of abuse or violence. Often, victims hide their scars (physical and emotional) out of misplaced shame, or fear, or any given number of reasons. Knowing the signs of abuse can help you help the people you love:
- Physical violence, including hitting, shoving, grabbing, biting, restraining, choking, burning, forcing the use of drugs or alcohol, or use of a weapon.
- Sexual violence such as sexual assault, rape or any unwanted sexual behavior.
- Economic abuse such that the victim becomes financially dependent on the abusive spouse or romantic partner making it difficult to leave or get help.
- Psychological abuse includes intimidation through threats of violence against you, your children or other loved ones, your pets, or property.
- Emotional abuse involves the abusive partner engaging in constant criticism, name-calling, humiliation and other behavior designed to diminish your self-worth.
Often times people in abusive relationships encounter signs of these forms of abuse but feel helpless and stuck. Call me to discuss the legal avenues that offer you a way to fight back.
How do I get a restraining order in South Carolina?
My experience prosecuting domestic violence cases gives me special insight into what's needed to secure an order of protection for victims of domestic violence. A victim must meet certain requirements under the law to obtain an order of protection, commonly referred to as a restraining order. The basic requirements and procedures include:
- The abuser must be the petitioner's current or former spouse, parent of your child, a person currently or previously living in the same household.
- A petition must be filed in the family court in York County, Chester County, or Lancaster County. If you live in another county, you may file the petition where you live but your attorney will need to have the case moved to the proper county where your abuser resides.
- Your petition will need to detail the allegations of abuse along with other basic information, including any previous restraining orders or convictions of your romantic partner.
- You will be able to request temporary relief in your petition aside from your abuser staying away from you, to include custody of your children, the marital home, and financial support. Your attorney will discuss the situation with you to guide you in determining what will be safest for you. Because many abusers use real or threatened harm of pets as a means to control their victims, you can also request custody of any pets to protect them.
- You will attend a hearing where your attorney will be able to show the abuse through all available evidence, including witnesses, medical reports, photos, and police reports.
- Whether your order is granted or denied, your attorney will advise you on the next steps to take. Typically if an order is denied, your best course of action is to relocate to a shelter or other safe residence until the situation becomes safe.
If your order of protection is granted and your abuser violates it, he or she can be sentenced to time in jail, if found guilty.
How domestic violence can affect divorce proceedings
Making the decision to leave an abusive relationship is frightening. If you have been threatened, or if you are being economically oppressed, it may seem impossible.
But it is not.
If you are seeking a divorce, your spouse will be required to share the marital property with you under equitable distribution, and may even be required to pay alimony and child support depending on the facts of your individual case. There are also resources available at the local, state, and federal levels to help you find a safe place to live, and get back up on your feet economically.
Domestic violence and child custody
The court will do whatever is in the best interests of the children. While it may seem obvious that a child should not be with your abuser, the court will need proof of this abuse; it does not, and cannot, simply take your word for it. If you are seeking sole custody of your children, the following information and evidence can help strengthen your case:
- A police report
- A restraining order
- A petition for an emergency hearing
- Videos and/or photographic proof of physical violence
- A report from a forensic exam (also called a “rape kit”)
- Eyewitness statements and depositions
I will do everything in my power under the law to protect you and your children, including assisting you with name changes. If you have been a victim of abuse and are ready to start your new life, contact me in Fort Mill or Rock Hill today, and let me put my firm's full resources behind you.
My ex has accused me of abuse, but I am innocent; what do I do?
While most efforts and resources go to the victims of domestic violence – as well they should – there are times when one person may attempt to claim abuse in the hopes of obtaining a greater share of the assets, or a “better” custody order.
This is despicable, not only because the suggestion of domestic violence can ruin the life of an innocent person, but because it takes away from the seriousness of the problem of the real abuse in South Carolina.
If your ex-spouse has falsely accused you of abuse, or has alienated or manipulated your children into making false claims, my firm can help. Just as we would investigate any claims of violence to protect a victim, so shall we investigate the accusations against you. If we can prove that your ex is lying, we will submit that proof to the court. False accusations will not play in your ex's favor.
I understand that this is an extremely sensitive, delicate situation. At Holland Law, your case will be treated with the dignity and discretion it deserves.
Domestic violence resources for Fort Mill, Rock Hill, and throughout the state
Whether you are just looking to leave an abusive relationship, or your situation is so dire that living in the marital residence is unsafe, below are resources you may need to utilize until your situation becomes more stable.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline also provides listings for shelters that accept pets caught in the middle of domestic violence who need to find safety with their owners.
|National Center for Victims of Crime
|SC Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
Domestic violence shelters:
Safe Passage, Inc. in Rock Hill
|24 Hour Hotline
|National Domestic Violence Hotline
Fighting for your right to an abuse-free life in South Carolina
Holland Law understands the impact volatile relationships can have on you and your children. Being educated as to your legal options is your best plan of defense when your safety is being threatened. If you live in York, Lancaster, or Chester County and are ready to break the cycle of violence, schedule a consultation with me in either my Fort Mill office on Gold Hill Road, or in my Rock Hill office on Oakland Avenue by calling 803-676-1128, or feel free to reach out to me through my contact page.