Domestic violence is a state and national problem affecting more than 10 million Americans annually. The Myrtle Beach Police Department usually averages five to six domestic violence calls per week, and Officer Michele Paitsel with the Police Department’s Family Services Unit is dedicated to handling these cases.
“Whether female or male, the victim has been abused by their partner, physically or mentally. Not only does violence hurt the victim, but it affects everyone in the household and anyone who witnesses the situation, especially children,” Piatsel says. The devastating consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.
In 2017, city officers responded to 489 domestic violence calls. The numbers are higher this year – 519 domestic violence calls so far – with more than two months to go in the calendar year.
Domestic violence includes behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, destroy property or wound someone. It also can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats that influence another person.
More than 38 million American women have been victims of domestic violence. Men also are abused, especially verbally and emotionally. The technological revolution has created new ways for abusers to dominate, intimidate and control the people in their lives through manipulation, cyber-stalking and emotional blackmail.
Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. And, while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression and make you feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure this kind of pain. The first step to breaking free is recognizing the situation is abusive. Once the abuse is acknowledged, seek help to escape.
Remember, abusers are very good at controlling and manipulating their victims. People who have been emotionally abused or battered are depressed, drained, scared, ashamed and confused. They need help to get out, yet they’ve often been isolated from their family and friends. By picking up on the warning signs and offering support, you can help them escape an abusive situation and begin healing.
During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we stand with those affected by this crime and recognize groups and individuals who have come forward to break the cycle of violence. For help in our area, contact The Family Justice Center (843-445-2583), New Directions for Women and Families (843-232-7055) or Street Reach Ministries – Men Only (843-945-4902). You can also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) and South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (803-256-2900).
City of Myrtle Beach’s Victim Advocate Office
The Victim Advocate Office is a division of the City of Myrtle Beach City Attorney’s Office. The mission of The City of Myrtle Beach Victim Advocate Office is to empower victims of crime by protecting their rights and providing services and resources that could assist in the process of overcoming victimization. This office is responsible for assisting crime victims whose crime occurs in the city limits of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and is investigated by the Myrtle Beach Police Department.
If you or a loved one is in need of assistance, please call 843-918-1372 or stop by the Ted C. Collins Law Enforcement Center, 1101 North Oak Street (open 24 hours a day, seven days a week). The Advocates participate in all court proceedings held in the City of Myrtle Beach Municipal Court that involve a crime victim case. They are in the courtroom to provide support and information about the court process. They provide information to crime victims regarding victim compensation and assist in filing for victim compensation through the South Carolina Department of Crime Victim Compensation program. The Victim Advocates also make referrals to other agencies as necessary.
Visit the city’s Victim Advocate Office’s webpage for additional information and resources.