By Beverly Gadson-Birch
In wake of the recent murders of three generations of the Manigault family, I thought I would focus today on family and domestic violence. It is unfathomable that such a heinous crime could occur to such a wonderful family and on the doorsteps of an old but highly respected community. The Hamlin Road Community reminds me of the small community where I grew up. It’s what I affectionately refer to as an “old school community”. Neighbors knew neighbors. Children had to be in before dark. Unlike today, in “old school communities” anyone could discipline your children. And they did without a second thought.
Hamlin is a community where families raised their children with morals and worked hard to educate their children. So, what happened to the son that they raised? The son they loved and provided for unconditionally so he could become successful in life? And, the son they sent to college? Although, I do not know the Manigault family personally, I know the type of families that reside in “old school communities”.
It seemed that Scott was destined for success. From news accounts, the Manigault family was a good family—upstanding in their church and community–hardworking and valued employees at their workplace. So, what happened to Scott? Did he see himself as a failure? Did he feel he let his family down because he was constantly getting into trouble? During his court hearing, he could not face the family. He knew he had done the unspeakable. He brutally murdered his family.
Several years ago, I wrote an article on domestic violence. After the murder of Malakia Frazier, a 26-year-old pregnant woman, I felt compelled to address the issue of violence on behalf of her and her baby that was in intensive care. If this article prevents others from a similar fate, Malakia’s death would not have been in vain. And, in the case of the Manigault family, here’s hoping that the more we shed light on this very dark subject of domestic violence, the more we can avert the senseless violence.
Shortly after the article on domestic violence appeared in The Chronicle, an inmate wrote a letter to me addressed to The Chronicle. I will refer to the inmate as David to protect his privacy. David had been in the military and was serving time for spousal abuse and rape. He acknowledged that domestic violence is a growing epidemic in the United States. In prison, David started a non-profit organization called CAPA (Completely Against Physical Abuse). He thanked me for doing the article and in his own words said, “You taught me what I was doing was wrong and I had no right to do what I did to her.” It’s people like David that make writing worthwhile. I don’t know where David is today but I am hoping he is out of prison and is leading a disciplined life.
There are far too many victims of family and domestic violence—too afraid to leave and too afraid to seek help. I, too, was confronted with spousal abuse in a previous relationship. Now, y’all make sure if you gonna carry a bone, be sure you carry it straight. Don’t chop on it before you get where you are going. I said previous; not present.
Now, as I was saying, a former partner thought he was going to abuse me. I knew that boy didn’t have the sense he was born with if he thought he was going to abuse John T’s (that’s my daddy) daughter. No sir, that wasn’t about to happen. John T also had five boys and anyone of those boys would have made a believer out of him. I was raised in a close-knit family, much like the Manigaults. We lived by the law and anyone who knows those Gadson girls knows that if you mess with one, you are messing with all.
It is not my intent to make light of the matter but to draw you into reality and options for escape or when to seek help.
Domestic violence is a very serious matter. Sometimes you can identify signs leading up to the tragic occurrence and sometimes it just happens. It’s important that you stay in touch with family and friends. An early sign of abuse is isolation or in the case of family abuse, failure. Do not allow an abuser to isolate you from your family and friends. Oftentimes, an abuser doesn’t want his/her victim to work so they can keep their abuse a secret. Too many persons remain in abusive relationships because they have no family support or finance; or, families hide the abuse by a child because they see themselves as failures. Parents oftentimes recognize their children are having problems but don’t want to portray them out as “problematic” or “bad apples”. What will my neighbors think? What will my friends think? Then, there are families that are having problems with their children but very rarely see their “dark side” or “violent nature” before it is too late.
According to the South Carolina Abuse Center, there is “an average of 36,000 assaults reported to law enforcement every year.
In 2014, South Carolina was the state with the highest number of women killed by men and has been in the top ten states EVERY year for the past fifteen years (Violence Policy Center).”
My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the Manigault family.