Local law enforcement officials and domestic violence advocates say they want to bring awareness to the reality of this abuse, with October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
According to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, domestic violence is a pattern used to establish power and control over a person through fear and intimidation. The violence can be physical, verbal, sexual, or emotional.
Advocates must rely on volunteers and public donations to help victims of abuse and their children. These days, it's not always that simple.
Laura Kuester, Help In Crisis executive director, said October and April are their biggest months of the year for fundraising. However, she said the pandemic has made a dent in operations for the organization.
“We’re still somewhat limited as far as doing large group activities, but we’ve been doing more passive programing this year,” said Kuester. We’ve already stated canvassing downtown with posters that have our information about domestic violence.”
According to the Violence Policy Center, Oklahoma ranked eighth in the U.S. for women who are murdered by men.
“From 1996 to 2019, the rate of women murdered by men in single victim/single offender incidents dropped from 1.57 per 100,000 women in 1996 to 1.18 per 100,000 women in 2019, a decrease of 25 percent,” the VPC said.
Kuester said the month brings awareness to the reality of domestic violence. This year’s theme is, “Everyone Knows Someone,” and statistics indicate just that.
“If the statistics are 1 in 4 women, think about 1 in 4 women in your family. Oftentimes it’s quiet and there’s a lot of guilt and shame to it,” she said.
Not all domestic violence cases are reported to authorities, and they're not always physical.
“Most people think domestic violence means broken noses and black eyes, and the majority of victims are not typically [physically] abused,” said Kuester. “There’s a bigger statistic of victims who are emotionally and verbally abused, and even then, you can add stalking to that.”
Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King said his department has seen a recent increase in physical domestics, and in verbal domestics.
“From Jan. 1, 2020 to Oct. 6, 2020, we had 105 domestic calls, and from Jan. 1, 2021 to Oct. 6, 2021, we had 118 domestic calls,” said King. “We’ve had a 12 percent increase. Most of those have been simple disputes and they haven’t been assaults per se. We’ve have a 40 percent increase in domestic disturbances with no assault and battery.”
The chief said domestic incidents that involved weapons were down 20 percent, but domestics wherein an assault occurred were up by 15 percent.
Throughout October, people are encouraged to wear purple, especially on Thursdays. The month marks a way to connect people and organizations working on domestic violence issues while raising awareness.
All services provided by HIC are free and confidential to victims. Their shelter serves victims in four counties: Adair, Sequoyah, Cherokee, and Wagoner. HIC services include: counseling, domestic violence education groups, and a variety of classes for parents.
Community members have avenues to receive assistance if they have been victims of domestic violence. These include the NSU Violence Prevention Office, ONE FIRE Against Violence Victim Services Office, and HIC.