CONWAY — Tissues were passed around frequently when two local speakers shared personal stories of domestic violence during the first of a three-part lecture series on the topic Thursday night at Horry Georgetown Technical College .
The aim of their talks was to help prevent future victims of criminal domestic violence.
Ashley O’Rourke, an 18-year-old recent St. James High School alumna, started the night.
“I want it to stop,” she said. “I want [domestic violence] to get awareness. I want to help other people.”
O’Rourke is a victim of domestic violence, who told of how she was abused by a family member who she said also hit her sister and mother.
Now in her first year at Horry Georgetown Technical College, O’Rourke says she is on a path to become a social worker to help people in similar situations.
South Carolina last month was ranked No. 2 in the number of women killed by men according to annual figures released by the Violence Policy Center.
Linda Snelling told the story of her daughter Buffy Marie who was murdered by her boyfriend when she was 22. Snelling is the president of Not One More, Inc. and creator of the Horry-Georgetown Silent Witness Project.
Snelling said those statistics aren’t good, but the rankings don’t really matter. The year her daughter died, she was the only domestic violence murder victim in Delaware.
“How many does it take for it to be a terrible number?” Snelling asked. “I don’t care if you’re rated one or two or 40th,” she said. “I’m here to tell you one is one too many.”
Snelling was surrounded on stage by five, red silhouettes that represented children who had been murdered as victims of domestic violence. She shared the stories of all victims in the Silent Witness Project.
O’Rourke and Snelling said it will require education to achieve their goal of helping to prevent future victims.
“You cannot legislate morality,” she said. “I believe it has a lot to do with how we communicate. We don’t treat each other as well as we used to and it continues to get worse … we need to have more respect for each other.”
O’Rourke said she hopes her story teaches people to speak out.
“There are so many victims out there who are afraid,” she said. “They have every right to be afraid because there’s a man telling them he will kill them.”
The series will be continued every Thursday for the rest of the month.
Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381.