EASLEY — The state of South Carolina ranks among the worst in the nation when it comes to criminal domestic violence and the deaths of women at the hands of their partners. Angel Garcia wants to change that.
Miss Blue Ridge Foothills Teen 2014, Garcia has adopted the promotion of awareness and end of criminal domestic violence in South Carolina as her platform. The city of Easley stepped up in recognition of her efforts by declaring Aug. 20 “A Day of Remembrance for Domestic Violence Victims.”
“If this is going on in your home, you have to speak up,” Garcia said. “If you know about this happening with someone else, you have to say something. I’m hoping to educate about this issue beginning with middle school kids.”
Through using what Garcia referred to as the “Four T’s,” the Pickens County teen is hopeful of making an impact.
“The ‘Four T’s’ are teach, talk, trust and tell,” Garcia explained. “You have to teach what the signs of abuse are, talk to the person being abused, gain their trust, and for teens or kids, if you need to, tell an adult.”
In 2013 South Carolina ranked first in the United States for women killed by men through domestic violence. As the statutes stand in the state, CDV becomes a felony following the third offense. There is a legislative cap on the maximum bond issued by a magistrate, allowing for no flexibility in the case of repeat offenders.
Garcia’s inspiration comes from close to home, including an aunt who was at one time involved in an abusive relationship, but also from a local murder-suicide in the Easley area when a father killed his wife, son and then turned the gun on himself.
Eventually Garcia would like to see changes in the state statutes, but one change she would like to see would be the creation of a database for offenders.
“Like the sexual offender registry, I’d like to see a registry put in place for domestic violence,” she explained. “If there were a registration requirement, a background check would be easy and may make a difference in someone’s life.”
As far as Easley Mayor Larry Bagwell is concerned, Garcia’s cause is worthy.
“I appreciate your platform and what you’re trying to do,” Bagwell said during the ceremony. “There needs to be more done and we’re all proud of what you’re doing.”
Garcia is also looking to increase awareness of the rising trend of abuse for teens who are dating as well, highlighting the emotional, mental and physical abuse that can occur.