ROCK HILL, S.C. — Cherish Benton had these words for victims of domestic violence feeling trapped by fear.
"Get help. Reach out. Tell your friends. Speak up,” Benton said.
Benton was a close friend of 48-year-old Julie Taylor, who was found shot and killed in her Rock Hill home Jan. 17.
"This has hit us all so hard, and we're still shocked," Benton said.
Taylor’s 12-year-old daughter found her mother dead on a couch in their home. The man now charged with murder is her own father, Chris Taylor, 47.
Friends said Julie Taylor struggled through years of abuse that few people knew about.
She had separated from her husband, but police said he came after her anyway.
Friends said she had even changed the locks on the doors at their home on Winding Way in Rock Hill shortly before she was killed.
Records show police were called seven times to the house going back to 2017. There are calls listed as domestic, harassment, vandalism and several welfare checks. One call was six days before the homicide.
Julie Taylor was a nurse, a wife and mother, but also, a friend known for her kindness that some even called extreme.
"She was always positive, always looking at the bright side of things. And I…I can't believe she's gone," Benton said.
Benton knew Julie and her husband for more than 20 years.
They vacationed together and shared their lives. But something Julie never shared with her was the alleged abuse she endured.
On Friday night, close friends planned a public event to celebrate Julie Taylor’s life.
Domestic violence activists will also speak.
Those who loved Julie want to fight for change in her memory.
They plan to talk about what steps might have prevented her death and what could now save other lives.
"Something has to be done. What does it need to be? What can we do so that she didn't die in vain?" Benton said.
South Carolina is in the top five nationally in cases of men killing women. Abusers often violate orders of protection or restraining orders, and judges often set low bonds, allowing them to quickly get out of jail following an arrest.
Taylor’s daughter has now lost her mother and father. She’s been moved to Ohio to live with relatives.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help her family.
For domestic violence resources, click here.
Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com:
© 2020 © 2020 Cox Media Group