FOX 25: Oklahoma tackles domestic violence crisis with amplified awareness during October's Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By: Katie Arata

Published: October 15, 2023

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October has been designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this year, the state of Oklahoma is focusing on raising awareness about one of its most pressing issues: domestic violence.

Numerous non-profit organizations, along with state officials, have joined forces to shed light on this critical matter.

According to recent data released by Oklahoma’s Attorney General, the state witnesses nearly 26,000 cases of domestic violence annually, positioning Oklahoma as the second-highest state in the nation for the number of women killed by men. This alarming statistic has prompted significant efforts towards driving change in this realm.

“October is our call to action,” stated Gentner Drummond, Oklahoma’s Attorney General, “This month, and every day of every year, but particularly in October, we must hold the abuser accountable and empower and protect the victim.”

Oklahoma holds the unfortunate distinction of having the highest rate of domestic violence in the United States, as stated by Domestic Violence Dot Org.

Hillary Burkholder, CEO of Palomar OKC Family Justice Center, emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, “We see a lot of domestic violence in Oklahoma; we have some of the highest prevalence of it in the whole country.”

“It’s really important for us to have options available for people going through this,” Burkholder continued. “Some estimates suggest that up to 49% of women and 40% of men in Oklahoma will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.”

Several non-profits in the state offer critical services to individuals experiencing domestic violence.

Palomar Family Justice Center, for instance, serves as a one-stop-shop for survivors. Burkholder explained, “The Family Justice Center model is the concept of bringing all of the services and agencies that a survivor might need to engage with under one roof. By having all of those partners in one spot, we remove barriers and increase access.”

Every year, hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans seek assistance from victim service provider agencies like Palomar, underlining the necessity of such support structures.

Attorney General Drummond emphasized the scale of the issue, stating, “Each year, 365,000 Oklahomans experiencing domestic violence seek assistance from victim service provider agencies.”

Organizations like Palomar have been actively working to reduce domestic violence in the state and stress the importance of legislative measures in tackling the issue. “We need to do that also through our legislation and looking at the laws that keep people safe, and those that are maybe keeping people unsafe,” Burkholder emphasized.

During the recent legislative session, lawmakers like Adam Pugh have introduced legislation aimed at helping domestic violence victims, and they have expressed their commitment to continue addressing this critical issue in the upcoming sessions.