So what is Domestic Violence? The United States Department of Justice defined it on their website:
We define domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.
Oklahoma ranked third in the nation in 2012 for homicides, but Tulsa was at the top of the list for Oklahoma in 2012 of woman being killed by men. Not a list we should be proud to make at all. So what is being done about this?
I was privy to a talk this morning about domestic violence given by Tulsa County District Judge Mary Fitzgerald and what Tulsa County is doing about it. First of all, starting Nov. 1, law enforcement officers across the state will be required by state statute to conduct a “lethality assessment” on every domestic violence call. This is a huge win in the fight against domestic violence.
Fitzgerald, who has been Chief of the Family Division at Tulsa County District Court for the past five years, went on to explain that Tulsa County District Court is working with a federal grant to implement an integrated domestic violence court to be overseen by one judge, Judge Bill Hiddle, who will hear all cases where domestic violence charges are brought. This will help the court by having one judge who will be better able to monitor a case and will know what is going on within the families that will be brought before him. Fitzgerald went on to explain that a lot of research has been done on similar models such as the ones in Dallas and the State of Idaho. The goal is to have the court up and running by the first week in November.
Working in conjunction with the courts is the Family Safety Center located in the Police Courts Building. Opening their doors in January 2006, they offer services like:
· Safety planning and family violence prevention education
· Emergency Protective Order assistance
· Crisis Counseling
· Forensic nurse, trained in sexual assault, to assess and document injuries
· Access to law enforcement detectives
· Children’s play area supervised by a Master Teacher
· Attorneys providing help in obtaining permanent protective orders
· Chaplin services
These are just a few of what this amazing agency offers.
Here is a link to a fact sheet on domestic violence provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. It has some information that you will find helpful and interesting.
Every situation is different, but there remains a resounding truth; you and you alone should how the key to your own power and control. No one should be able to intimidate or abuse you into taking that key away from you.
The only way we can change this is by talking about it. If you are experiencing abuse, please talk to someone about it. If you don’t feel safe talking to a friend or family member then call the Safeline: 1.800.522.7233 or call the 24-Hour Crisis Lines at 918.7HELP.ME/918.743.5763.
Please share this blog with as many people as you can so we can get the discussion going on how to best help end domestic violence.
Have a peaceful night!
Johnny Bryan Ward