According to the Violence Policy Center (VPC) in Washington, D.C., Oklahoma ranks fourth in the nation of the number of women killed by domestic violence. The study estimates about 21 percent of women and 10 percent of men in Oklahoma are victims of domestic abuse. Those startling statistics, in turn, often also mean unsafe living conditions for some Oklahoma children, increasing the risk of more kids entering foster care.
“Domestic violence continues to impact far too many Oklahomans,” said Ed Lake, director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS). “Our data shows a large number of child welfare cases report domestic violence is a factor within the home. That kind of emotional trauma adversely affects a child’s development and can increase the risk of a child passing on the violent behavior from one generation to the next. This is a societal problem we all must work to end.”
97 percent of women killed in Oklahoma knew the person who killed them, according to VPC. Most were wives, ex-wives or girlfriends of their murderers and children of victims often witness the violence and abuse.
“Domestic Violence Awareness Month is designed to honor the women, children and men who overcame abuse, and to remember those who didn’t,” said YWCA-OKC CEO Jan Peery.
Community groups including OKDHS and the YWCA-OKC have several events planned to raise awareness throughout the month. The events are free and open to the public:
- Oct. 4: Native Alliance Against Violence Day at the State Capitol, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- Oct. 12: Balloon release at the DHS Training Center, 617 W. Rock Creek Road in Norman, 12 p.m.
- Oct. 13: Domestic Abuse Award Ceremony, Blue Room, State Capitol, 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- Oct. 27: Domestic Violence Awareness Walk and Wreath of Hope Ceremony, State Capitol south lawn, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
OKDHS and the YWCA encourage everyone to wear purple each Thursday throughout October to show support for victims and survivors of domestic violence. To learn more about domestic violence, visit Oklahoma City YWCA or the Purple Ribbon website at http://www.okdhs.org/purpleribbon/pages/default.aspx.
The YWCA provides shelter for domestic violence victims and Peery says the following items are always needed:
- Deodorant for both women and men
- Underwear for girls and boys
- Feminine hygiene products
- Hair products for all hair types
- Hair brushes
- Diapers (all sizes)
“When women and children come to YWCA for help, they’ve got little more than just the clothes they are wearing and they are running for their lives,” said Peery. “What is more frightening is the large number of Oklahoma women who don’t make it to a shelter before their abuser uses deadly force.”
If you are a victim of domestic violence or know someone who is, call the 24-hour Safeline at 1-800-522-SAFE (7233). Donations can be dropped off at the YWCA administrative offices at 2460 NW St in Oklahoma City, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.