Oklahoma ranked third in the nation for women killed by men in single-victim-offender homicides in 2012, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence or NCADV.
Since then, Oklahoma has dropped to sixth in the nation, providing hope of progress for advocates of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.
“It’s not always easy to tell at the beginning of a relationship if it will become abusive,” the website for the National Domestic Violence Hotline says.
“Abuse is a repetitive pattern of behaviors to maintain power and control over an intimate partner…abuse includes use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation,” according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline in Austin, Texas.
People with abusive tendencies may discourage or keep his or her partner from seeing family and friends, sling demeaning or shameful insults meant to degrade, threaten to take children away, intimidate with guns, knives, or other weapons, maintain control of all finances, and force drug or alcohol use.
Women are not the only victims of domestic violence and abuse. One in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence within a close relationship. According to the State of Oklahoma, 20 percent of perpetrators of domestic violence were female.
Perpetrators of domestic violence may have outbursts followed by periods of remorse and promises that the behavior will stop and seek forgiveness for the offense. This is part of the cycle of domestic violence leading to another outburst over time. These outburst can not only affect the victim but any children present in the relationship as well.
Those who are victims of domestic violence have options to break that cycle.
Those in present danger are strongly encouraged to call the Altus Police Department emergency line at 911.
Victim advocacy programs such as Associated Christian Ministries Inc. or ACMI House Crisis Center in Altus and New Directions in Lawton are focused on the safety of victims and their children after the decision to leave has been made.
The Center offers assistance to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. The program takes crisis calls 24 hours a day and operates a shelter for those seeking escape from violent situations. Services are available for both men and women. Counseling services are also available.
New Directions also has a 24-hour crisis hotline and operates a shelter for women who have been victims of domestic violence. They offer domestic violence education, emergency local transportation, a confidential shelter location and crisis intervention services.
Domestic violence is a punishable crime in Oklahoma, not just another part of life.
To reach the ACMI House Crisis Hotline, call 800-482-3800. To reach New Directions Hotline, call 580-357-2500.
Reach Katrina Goforth at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077.