OCONEE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) -This time of year, is a time for joy and holiday cheer for some people. However, some said increases in domestic violence cases are also seen during this time of year.
“…They go up around the holidays, you know stress and pressure from buying gifts, putting food on the table for Thanksgiving, putting food on the table for Christmas and that causes situations like that. A lot of calls we answer are money generated,” said Sargeant Charles Mulwee, Founder and Director of Community Tree Center.
Oconee County non-profits hope training could stop the violence, with the help of the community.
Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw told 7NEWS they saw a little over 200 cases last year. He said domestic violence isn’t really increasing.
Crenshaw said, 10 years ago, they had about 250 cases reported a year. He said after places like Safe Harbor came to the county, they saw numbers go down.
Mulwee said he sees domestic abuse at his day job.
“I’m a sergeant by day at the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office for the PACE Team–Pro-Active Criminal Enforcement,” Mulwee said.
An advocate with “A Call to Action Oconee” said at one point and time, South Carolina was ranked pretty high in domestic violence cases.
“In 2014, we were number one,” said Suzanne Merrell, A Call to Action Oconee. “In 2022, we are tied for number 10, not good enough, but at least it’s dropping,” she said.
In efforts to do something about it, Merrell said they reached out to Mulwee, who runs a non-profit called, “A Community Tree Center,” to do a Green Dot Bystander Intervention.
There was training this week at the Community Tree Center.
Green Dot Bystander Intervention is a part of A Call to Action Oconee.
According to A Call to Action Oconee’s website, “A Call to Action Oconee (ACTA) uses the Green Dot strategy developed by Dorothy Edwards, PhD. from the University of Kentucky.
Green Dot provides participants with the necessary tools to safely intervene in a potentially violent situation, as well as portrays the belief that “Violence is NOT okay!”
“We train the community. We are working in all three, not just Oconee,” Merrell said. “We’ve been in Pickens and Anderson also, training the community in being an effective bystander. What to do if you see power base violence, child abuse, dating abuse, domestic abuse,” she said. “How we can change the culture of the community, one green dot at a time,” Merrell said.
Through videos and conversations, the non-profits hope people will safely intervene when they’re in or see dangerous situations.
“We’re hoping that we can get them to be able to identify it before it actually turns very physical and starts hurting people and be able to walk away,” Mulwee said.
Merrell said people are being educated on the three D’s.
“We talk about the three D’s. Direct, just going to someone in saying okay, is everything okay. I see that this is a problem. Delegate, which is speaking to a manager or calling 911, if you think it’s a very risky situation, and distract, which is just changing the moment, what’s going on in the moment,” Merrell said. “Trying to diffuse a dangerous situation,” she said.
“If they means playing loud music, if that means knocking on the door and checking on the person to stop that cycle at the time,” Mulwee said.
The Oconee County Sheriff said he’s happy to see these groups bringing awareness and getting people involved.
“What we’re trying to do is change the culture of our county, of our state, where you don’t look at people and go, Well I don’t know is it any of my business. I don’t want to get involved,” Merrell said. “We’re trying to change that to say, you have to get involved. This could be your granddaughter that’s in a dangerous situation. So, you have to do something,” Merrell said.
“In any situation, not just abuse situations, but anything that’s close to our hearts, we have to stand up and speak out and when we do, it’s going to make everyone aware that there’s something you can do about this,” Merrell said. “You don’t have to sit there and watch it happen. You can stand up, you can speak out, and if enough of us do that, we can change what’s going on in our state,” she said.
Mulwee said they plan to host A Call to Action’s training again, in the Spring, possibly in April.
The groups said if you are a victim to domestic violence, always know there is help.
Click here to read more about the Green Dot Bystander Intervention, provided by A Call to Action Oconee.