Help End Domestic Violence with Protection, Hope and Healing - MetroFamily Magazine
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Help End Domestic Violence with Protection, Hope and Healing

by Hillary Burkholder

Reading Time: 4 minutes 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time where we raise public awareness about the prevalence of domestic violence, the resources that are available and the ways that we can all help support someone that may be experiencing domestic violence. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines domestic violence as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner over another.”  There are many types of abuse including verbal, physical, emotional, sexual, financial, digital and reproductive coercion.

Unfortunately in Oklahoma, our statistics for domestic violence are staggering. We have the highest prevalence of domestic violence in the country, meaning that almost half of all women and more than a third of men will experience it in their lifetime. Domestic violence affects people regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and religious affiliation. This means that everyone knows someone who needs to know what resources are available.

Domestic violence is a community crisis, and we believe that it takes all of us to address the issue. Palomar is Oklahoma City’s Family Justice Center, a multi-disciplinary service model where professionals from many systems and agencies come together under one roof to provide coordinated, comprehensive support to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, children who witness violence, elder abuse and human trafficking. By providing a variety of supports such as law enforcement, civil legal services, advocacy and safety planning, mental health and more in a single location, Palomar can remove barriers that often come with navigating systems separately, while still centering survivor choice to decide which services they want to engage with and when. Palomar is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday for walk-ins or through live chat on our website, for those that want to start there.

Palomar serves victims within the Oklahoma City metro, but there are other resources as well. In addition to being on site at Palomar, many of our community partners including the YWCA, La Luz, and LCDA also serve people at their own separate locations. Cardinal Point is a Family Justice Center providing wraparound services to survivors in Canadian County. The Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.522.7233 is available 24/7. Whatever access point you choose, we want you to know that you are not alone and that there is help.

While domestic violence seems daunting, it is important to remember that helping to end domestic violence starts with just one small action, whether that is seeking out help for yourself or supporting someone that is experiencing it. If someone tells you this is happening to them, the number one thing you can do for them is to believe them. Secondly, recognize that these situations are complex and difficult and that there are many reasons victims feel trapped or even return to abusive situations. It is important to support them without judging the decisions they make. Isolation is a key component of an abusive relationship, so even if they don’t accept the offer, it’s important to keep the door open for them. Finally, encourage them to create a safety plan and to explore their options for services, but resist the urge to “rescue.” It is incredibly difficult to watch someone you care about suffer through abuse but understand that only they have the power to make the decision to leave, and that it often takes multiple attempts before they leave for good. Palomar understands that supporting a loved one can be emotionally difficult and we have created a secondary survivor’s group that meets the second Tuesday of each month at noon.

It is our mission to provide protection, hope and healing and, since opening our doors in 2017, Palomar has helped over 20,000 unique individuals receive over 250,000 services. We know that we are stronger together and so if you’d like to engage in our mission there are several ways to do that:

  • Monetary and physical donations are critical to be able to meet the needs of those we serve (we are also hosting an online shoe auction this month).
  • Volunteers are critical to how we serve those in our community and 3 times a year we do training/onboarding for both volunteers and interns (January, May and August).
  • Open house and community events give us the opportunity to open our doors and hear more about how we collaborate to provide wraparound services . We have a Trunk or Treat coming up on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 2-4 p.m. and our last open house of the calendar year will be Wednesday, Oct. 25 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. (thank you to MidFirst Bank for sponsoring).

More information can be found on our social media (@palomarokc) and at palomarokc.org.

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