Family members give voices in 'Silent Witness' ceremony

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Fifty-two people -- 39 women and 13 men -- are not just statistics for Tuesday's Silent Witness ceremony, they are people who lost their lives as a result of domestic violence in South Carolina in 2011.

For Gloria Stephens, Nov. 13 is a day that will forever live in her mind.

"I think back, and I see the signs," said Stephens.

The devastating events that unfolded are because of man named Jefferson Perry, who was also her sister's husband.

"He shot her, he walked across street, shot and killed my husband, and chased me around the house and he shot my hand off and he shot my leg," said Stephens.

Perry was killed by law enforcement when he turned the gun on deputies a short time later, but even traumatic as her story is, Stephens, like so many who gathered for the ceremony, is not backing down against the fight to stop domestic violence. She now her spends her days sharing her story of losing both her sister and husband with people across the state.

"I think it's pattern and happening from person to person in the family," Stephens said.

But unfortunately, domestic violence seems to be getting worse in state. According to the Violence Policy Center in Washington DC, we rank second nationally in the rate of women killed by men. But there some like Detra Montgomery Johnson, who have made it out before it's too late. She was stabbed multiple times in her stomach with a screwdriver a few years ago by man who claimed he loved her.

"It's devastating, and for a while, I feel guilty because I survived and so many people didn't, but I know I have a purpose. I know I'm supposed to be here, and my goal my ultimate goal is to help other men and women realize that they don't have to go through this," said Johnson.

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