The 3rd annual gathering was in tribute to the late Emily-Anna Asbill, 19, of Clinton, who was strangled to death June 29, 2013, in her car at a house on Calvert Avenue in Clinton. Two men are in prison following their convictions in the homicide.
“I don’t know why by chance I am standing here today and EA is not. It was God’s will and chance,” said guest speaker Karin Ho, who works with domestic violence and sexual assault victims, and women who are incarcerated. She was kidnapped and strangled when she was 17 by a 52-year-old male stranger.
“I am the other 9%,” Ho said, referring to statistics that show 91% of women who are assaulted are victimized by people they know. Ho said she was strangled three times, and lived only because she grabbed her attacker in a vulnerable spot and pulled. “I wouldn’t hurt a fly. But I was fighting for my life.”
The Tuesday evening event at Sonic in Clinton raised awareness for the EA’s Love for Life foundation which assists women – men can be domestic violence victims but, statistically, it’s mostly women – in Laurens County who decide to escape their abusive partners. EA’s mother, Emily Joy, said after her daughter was murdered, she suffered medical problems; and while in the hospital, she said she saw her daughter at her bedside saying, “Get up. Do something.”
Since then, Joy has organized and spoken at events in Clinton and Charleston, testified before the General Assembly in Columbia and met with Congressmen in Washington, D.C. The measure she and others want to see passed by the state legislature – S-172, introduced by Sen. Katrina Shealy of Lexington – would make strangulation and suffocation separate crimes, aside from assault and battery, giving prosecutors and officers an extra bargaining chip when dealing with abusers.
Joy wanted the measure named “EA’s Law,” but that won’t happen. “In 2017, the legislature decided you can’t name laws after people. We were wanting to get this one grandfathered in,” Joy said, “but, you know what, it doesn’t matter” as long as the measure is adopted statewide.”
Right now, 45 of the 50 states have a similar law.
Law enforcement officers Michael Polson and Brian Bennett also presented information during the Remember Her Name event, and local singer Josh Owens provided special music. The audience included sorority sisters from Presbyterian College, law enforcement officers, and EA’s family and friends. The issue of criminal domestic violence remains a significant one in South Carolina – the latest federal study shows the state ranked at #5 in the nation in the rate of women killed by men.