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Get in the game against domestic violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For the second consecutive year, the Jasper County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council (JCDVCC) will hold a candlelight vigil to honor victims and survivors during halftime of the Ben Riley Classic football game between Hardeeville and Ridgeland Friday, Oct. 28. The vigil is themed "Get in the Game" - encouraging all citizens to get off the bench and join in the fight against domestic violence in our community.
It is fitting that this commemoration is held at an event named for Ben Riley whose 10 years as sheriff came to an untimely end in a 2007 auto accident. According to those who knew Riley during his time in both the Jasper County Sheriff's Office and Ridgeland Police Department, he was a law enforcement officer ahead of his time, especially in regard to the crime of domestic violence.
When the JCDVCC was established in 2004 one of its mandates was to help make community resources and services accessible to children and families exposed to domestic violence.
According to Ericka Gordon, president of the JCDVCC, from the first, Sheriff Riley encouraged his department, specifically the victim advocate, to play a vital role on the new council. He was equally vigilant about ensuring that officers availed themselves of any trainings or procedures which would improve their responses in domestic violence situations.
The Riley family has donated colorful miniature footballs that will be given out in the sheriff's honor at the game.
South Carolina ranks as seventh highest in the nation for the number of women killed by men. One in four women in the United States will be the victim of some form of intimate partner violence-be it verbal, emotional, sexual, physical or financial abuse. All are calculated to intimidate the victim and maintain control over her.
One reason community members are reluctant to get involved is because there remains the unspoken belief that a man has the right to control his family or, at the very least, we certainly don't have the right to become involved in his business. Fortunately for Jasper County, those continuing Sheriff Riley's legacy see this attitude for what it is-outdated and dangerous.
Domestic violence is not a private matter. It costs the nation's businesses over $4 billion in medical expenses and lost production annually. Children who are traumatized by witnessing violence are damaged emotionally and, frequently harmed physically as well. They often grow up to repeat the behavior they have witnessed. Domestic violence affects us all.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please call CODA (a member organization of the JCDVCC) at 770-1070 or 800-868-2632 for free and confidential services for victims and their children.

Martha Lawrence
Community Educator/Volunteer Coordinator
CODA

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