The Oklahoman: Men harming women, a scourge in Oklahoma

By The Oklahoman Editorial Board
Published: October 7th, 2020


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Oklahoma is climbing up one national chart that is particularly disconcerting — the state is No. 3 for its rate of female homicide victims killed by men.

According to the annual report by the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center, 2.3 per 100,000 women in Oklahoma died at the hands of men in 2018, the most recent year for which information is available. That placed the state’s female homicide victimization rate at more than double the national average.

Only Alaska, with a rate of 3.4 per 100,000, and Missouri (2.34 per 100,000), ranked ahead of Oklahoma.

The study involves homicides that involve one female murder victim and one male offender, using data from the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report.

Oklahoma more often than not has ranked among the 10 worst states in the VPC’s report, although in recent years it had fallen out of the top 10. Not this time.

Forty-six women were killed by men in Oklahoma in single-victim, single-offender incidents in 2018. Most were killed with guns, although six died from bodily force and one was killed by a blunt object.

For homicides where the victim-offender relationship could be identified, 97% of the victims were killed by someone they knew (nationally, the total is 92%). Of the victims who knew their offenders, 71% were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives or girlfriends.

Seventy-nine percent of the killings were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of those, about four in 10 involved arguments between the victim and the offender.

“The sad reality is that women are nearly always murdered by someone they know,” says Kristen Rand, VPC’s legislative director. “Although advocates and many community leaders are working tirelessly to reduce the toll of domestic violence, there is still much work to be done to protect women in harm’s way.”

Statistics show that is especially true in Oklahoma, although organizations such as the YWCA and Palomar in Oklahoma City, and Domestic Violence Intervention Services in Tulsa, are doing all they can to help. These agencies provide services for victims and advocate for stronger laws.

The VPC study supports reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and encourages state legislators to pass laws that bolster enforcement of federal legislation “and ensure that guns are surrendered by or removed from the presence of abusers.”

As this page has written more than once, domestic violence exacts a heavy toll not only on the spouse or partner, but on children. The National Domestic Violence Hotline says 30% to 60% of domestic abusers also abuse children in the household. Young people exposed to such trauma are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and attempt suicide, among other things.

This latest study is a sad sign that men harming women, a long-standing scourge in Oklahoma, shows no sign of abating. Heaven help us.