In the past two weeks, two more women have died at the hands of men in the tri-county area.

Saturday, Melinda Ford died of a gunshot wound; Timothy Wright is accused of pulling the trigger.

Police say Tasha Lucia was found stabbed and bludgeoned Feb. 10 in the James Island apartment she shared with Robert Tilghman Kronsberg.

Unfortunately, most South Carolinians are well aware that our state is ranked No. 2 in the nation for women killed by men.

“I don't anticipate us moving out of that ranking,” said Elmire Raven, executive director of My Sister's House.

The nonprofit helps domestic violence victims and their children by providing programs and resources for them, as well as providing a shelter, a safe haven from abusers.

And unfortunately, they stay pretty busy.

Hard to help, sometimes

It takes five to seven attempts for someone to leave an abusive situation for good, national statistics show. It takes a tremendous effort to leave, whether the change in location is 2 miles or 2,000 miles.

“I understand it's very frustrating for the friend or family member that's trying to help,” Raven said. “Unless you're walking in that person's shoes, you really can't make that decision for them. They've got to make it themselves.”

The best thing you can do is reach out and encourage the person.

And don't give up. Your friendship could be what helps someone make a change.

If you know a woman (or man) who is in this situation, Raven has some advice for you:

“I always remind people that they need to remember safety for themselves as well, not to interject yourself in the situation where you could also get harmed as well,” she said.

And that's worth remembering, especially in this climate of heated discussions about whether everyone needs a gun everywhere, all the time.

A potentially explosive domestic violence situation is one that the police are better equipped to handle than even the most well-intentioned person on the street. Don't become a victim in the battle to help someone else.

Next steps

If you are in an abusive relationship, please use these two cases as a reason to make a change, whether it's picking up the phone and calling the hotline at My Sister's House (843-744-3242 or toll-free at 800-273-HOPE) or going to one of the group's support meetings. There's one at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Charleston, but there are other meetings in other places. Call the hotline for details, for help, for someone who will listen. Or go to mysistershouse.org for more information.

If you are in an abusive relationship, your abuser has tried to take away your dignity, your self-esteem, your hope. He has tried to convince you, through his controlling and manipulative actions, that because you are his wife, girlfriend or the mother of his children, that you are his property and he can do what he wants with you, to you.

You deserve better.

You deserve to get help.

Reach Melanie Balog at 937-5565 or mbalog@postandcourier.com.