By TEDDYE SNELL
Statistics show one in eight women will contract breast cancer in her lifetime. Sadly, twice that many are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.
In 2012, Oklahoma ranked 17th in the nation in the rate of women murdered by men. Updated statistics from the Violence Policy Center indicate the state is now ranked third.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Help-In-Crisis Executive Director Margaret Cook wishes women were as comfortable talking about being victims of abuse.
“These days, women are more comfortable about talking about having a mastectomy, or surviving breast cancer,” said Cook.
“I only wish women were more comfortable discussing the fact they’ve survived domestic violence without feeling like they’re being judged. How do we make that shift?”
Purple ribbons denote domestic violence awareness, and Cook said she’d like to see more purple on display throughout October.
“I would be so encouraged to walk into a business and see purple everywhere,” said Cook.
Throughout the economic downturn, nonprofits like HIC have suffered financial setbacks, and Cook said the agency is hurting, despite receiving grant funding.
“Even though we received a $20,000 grant in September, it merely went to fill a hole that already existed,” said Cook.
“Right now, we’re trying to operate on a $100,000 cut. Some of our funding is flexible and can be moved to fill some gaps, but we’re looking at having to sacrifice at least two positions in the Child Advocacy Centers. The reality is we’re having a tough time.”
To help raise funds, HIC has instituted the One in Four Challenge, asking its contributors to donate $25 in honor of women who have experienced domestic violence, post the donation on HIC’s Facebook page, and share the post with 25 friends.
HIC operates child advocacy centers in Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah and Adair counties.
“Women are not the only victims when domestic violence happens; children suffer, too,” said Cook. “To be interviewed at one of our advocacy centers, a child has to be referred by the Department of Human Services or law enforcement. The number of interviews we conduct is staggering.”
From January to June, the Sallisaw office interviewed 93 children.
From January to March, the Tahlequah office had 39 youth interviews, 18 in Wagoner, 11 in Adair and 10 in Sequoyah.
“People don’t seem to understand that when Help-In-Crisis is in trouble, the advocacy centers are in trouble, too,” said Cook.
“It’s not just about the women; it’s about the kids, too. We’re hurting and we really need help.”
You Can Help
To find out more about Help-In-Crisis’ One in Four Challenge, visit www.facebook.com/tahlequah.helpincrisis. To make a donation, call the HIC office at (918) 456-0673.