A study out by the FBI in October said South Carolina ranks number one in the nation for violent crimes. One type of crime that's on the rise in this state is domestic violence.
According to the South Carolina State Attorney General's website, an average of 33 women are killed each year in South Carolina as a result of domestic violence. Most of the time, they occur behind closed doors.
But Susan Murphy-Milano hopes to give victims everywhere a chance to be 10 steps ahead of their abuser. She never wanted to be a domestic violence advocate. She had a great life as an investment banker until it all came crashing down one night in 1989.
"My mom was a long time victim of abuse,” Milano explained. “My father was a Chicago violent crimes detective. He murdered her and then took his own life. I vowed to change the world."
Milano has taken baby steps to do so over the last 20 years, working with women one on one to get out of volatile relationships. She's even written book on the subject.
Milano plans to take her knowledge mainstream with a new phone application for an evidentiary abuse affidavit (EAA).
"We have something called Crawford vs. Washington across the country and all these cases, when a woman goes missing, you don't know what she said,” said Milano. “You don't know about the offender. So in a case like that, had she prepared an affidavit, which is almost like a will: it talks about the incidences, gives her date of birth, her social security number, gives his information... So for the first time you have in the victim's words what's going on. It's not hear-say."
"I don't think in any way what happens inhibits me from having a normal life, a happy life. I try to learn from there mistakes so I make sure I don't get into a situation like my mom did," said Tina Abassi, who lost her mother at 15 to domestic violence.
Farah Abassi was killed by her father, Asghar Abassi Eliderani, at the family's convenient store in Socastee in 2008. It was the end of a childhood that Abassi says seemed normal.
"I don't remember growing up and thinking anything was wrong cause it's all I knew,” said Abassi. So if you grow up thinking that your parents fighting and not sleeping in the same bed, arguing and having your dad hurt your mom is normal, you don't think you're growing up wrong. You just think, 'Oh they're just fighting.’"
"We don't look at domestic violence as anything other than a private matter,” Milano said. “How many private matters are they going to continue to scream in silence?"
Milano created a new app that will allow a victim to record a video and fill out documents. They can explain the abuse and can include photos and information police could use in case if something happens. Milano hopes it will also give prosecutors evidence for conviction.
"So in her words, it shows that when somebody does this, it's premeditated,” she said. “So a lot of these cases individual offenders who go to trial and say, 'I was unhinged. It was a crime of passion.' Pardon me, but bullshit it wasn't. It's not a crime of passion; it's premeditated and they think they can get away with it."
Asghar Abassi Eliaderani was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2010, and received five years in prison as a sentence for killing his wife; a sentence that will be up within a year because Eliaderani is in a work release program.
"If she [Farah Abassi] had the EAA, it could have been something discreet that she could have filmed, that she could have said to know that incase anything ever happened, her voice would be heard,” said Abassi. “That would have given her peace of mind because she was so stressed out."
"You've got budget cuts across the country,” said Milano. “So to have this technology means that you're going to reduce the burden of the State for prosecutors or district attorneys in going in and doing this. If she does this, half their job's over with. If she winds up missing, it’s an easy arrest. You've effective a case that you wouldn't have had."
The new phone application is set to débuted on December 25th, but the information is available to all victims in a book written by Susan Murphy-Milano titled Time’s Up. Click here to Milano’s website, where the book can be purchased.
If you are in a dangerous relationship and would like help getting out, the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault can help. Contact them at 1-800-260-9293. You can also contact Milano directly through her email, firstname.lastname@example.org.