By Bess DuRant

South Carolina has a serious domestic violence problem.  36,000 incidents of domestic violence occur in South Carolina every year.  Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith, Jennifer Barry Hawes, & Natalie Caula Hauff, Till Death Do Us Part, The Post and Courier, available at  Moreover, several of those incidents resulted in the woman’s death, as South Carolina continues to rank among the top ten states as to the rate of women killed by men.  In fact, South Carolina’s murder rate for women doubled the nation’s rate this past year.  Id.  

Domestic violence does not discriminate.  This epidemic reaches all races, socioeconomic classes, and ages.  It effects not only the women who are physically injured, but also it severely impacts other family members, including children.  The immediate trauma of a child’s witnessing his mother being assaulted may be more obvious, but the more obscure damage to a child may be his inculcation into the cycle of violence.

The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office has made a concerted effort to curtail domestic violence in South Carolina.  One of its modes of attack is its pro bono program, in which lawyers agree to take on pro bono cases involving a charge of Criminal Domestic Violence – 1st Offense (“CDV-1”).  The Attorney General’s Office appoints these pro bono lawyers as “Special Prosecutors,” who then prosecute the CDV-1 charge against the defendant.  I have been a part of the program for the past couple of years, based on the recommendation of Kelly Hall, my friend, law school classmate, and the former head lawyer of the pro bono program.

The program is an ideal opportunity to help fight the disease of domestic violence in South Carolina.  If you are interested, please visit the Pro Bono Program’s website at or contact Sarah Peters, the program coordinator of S.T.O.P Violence Against Women at  I have found the program rewarding both personally and professionally, and I hope you do too.

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