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      Survivors of domestic violence bringing awareness to a problem plaguing South Carolina

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- South Carolina has one of the worst rates of deadly domestic violence in the country.

      In fact a recent study ranks South Carolina first in the nation in cases of women killed by men.

      Each October the state gets a sobering reminder of that at the annual Silent Witness ceremony.

      "As I looked directly into my abuser's eyes, I no longer saw the man that I loved or the father of my two children I saw a living breathing monster," said S andra Dayse.

      Dayse learned how quickly domestic violence can turn deadly.

      After undergoing surgery the mother of two was brutally beaten with a bat by her former husband.

      "He began to drag me across the living room floor to the front door of our home and down the front stairs, all of my post operation incisions were opened and bleeding from my gallbladder surgery.

      I felt numb, my face was badly bruised and swollen, shock ran through my entire body," adds D ayse .

      Dayse was beaten within inches of her life, while her attacker dragged her into the front yard she fought back getting the baseball bat.

      That's when her neighbors came to her rescue.

      Dayse survived... but her first thought wasn't about her health or safety it was for her children who witnessed the attack.

      Although I was in tremendous physical pain, the pain that I witnessed in the eyes of my children were far greater. They awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of arguing, screaming and the sound of a bat hitting human flesh and bone," said D ayse.

      We're last and so many things and yet we seem to be first in being able to kill people," said Laura Hudson with the South Carolina Crime Victims Council.

      According to the Violence Policy Center in 2011, 61 females were killed by men.

      33 of those women had been in a relationship with their killer, ranking South Carolina first in the nation in cases of women killed by men.

      Hudson says we need tougher laws, stricter bonds and a culture change in the state.

      She points out this years numbers are already heading in the wrong direction.

      "A victim should not feel a guilty or ashamed it's the abuser who should be punished, if the victim did anything wrong it was falling in love with the wrong person," concludes D ayse .

      More than 36 thousand cases of domestic violence are reported to police every year in South Carolina.