By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Oklahoma is ranked third in the nation in the rate of women murdered by men, with a rate of 1.99 per 100,000, according to the new Violence Policy Center (VPC) report When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2011 Homicide Data.
After #1 ranked South Carolina, the top 10 states are Alaska, Oklahoma, Delaware, Arizona, Tennessee, Idaho, West Virginia, Louisiana and New Mexico.
“The sad reality is that women are nearly always murdered by someone they know, said VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand. “Many elected officials and community leaders are working tirelessly to reduce the toll of domestic violence. We need new policies in place from local communities to the federal government to protect women from harm.”
The U.S. Department of Justice has found that women are far more likely to be the victims of violent crimes committed by intimate partners than men, especially when a weapon is involved. In addition, women are most likely to be victimized at home when a weapon is used.
The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Their annual report is released in October to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
In 2011, according to the report, 1,707 females were killed nationwide by males in single victim/single offender incidents. For homicides in which a relationship could be identified, 94 percent of the female victims were killed by a man they knew.
In homicides involving a weapon, 51 percent of female killings were committed with firearms.
“Nine women each week are shot to death by their husband or intimate partner, said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “That’s nearly 500 domestic gun violence deaths each year – more than twice the number of servicewomen killed in military conflicts since the Korean War.”
A nonpartisan grassroots movement, in just nine months since its beginnings, Moms Demand Action has gained more than 100,000 members with a chapter in every state in the country.
Sabine Brown, Moms Demand Action Oklahoma Chapter leader said,” We are participating in a national campaign to raise awareness of the link between lax gun laws and domestic abuse against women. We are pressuring our legislators to pass background checks which would close loopholes that would keep guns out of the wrong hands.”
A 2003 study about the risks of firearms in the home found that females living with a gun in the home were nearly three times more likely to be murdered than females with no gun in the home.
Oklahomans pay a cost of $4.1 billion per year due to domestic violence, more than $4 billion of which is medical fees. However, it is estimated that only about 50 percent of domestic violence incidents are reported.
Recently the Domestic Violence Awareness Month Wreath of Hope Ceremony, co-sponsored by YWCA Oklahoma City, was held at the State Capitol south lawn.
Metro area resident, Ashlee England was there. She said, “The sun was in our eyes, shinning down bright upon us. I’m so proud of my brave and courageous son. We have both suffered at the hands of the same person, but we are stronger than ever today.”
“As a survivor of domestic violence as an adult, and sexual child abuse as a child, I founded Healing With Hope in 2011,” said England. “We opened our first office in September 2013.”
YWCA OKC provides the only certified shelter for battered women and children in Oklahoma County and the surrounding area.
In 2012, the shelter served 530 women and children, offering counseling, case management, support groups and economic guidance, as well as childcare and children’s programs. YWCA OKC has served more than 18,000 women, children and men.
Janet Peery, YWCA OKC CEO said, ”“One of the things we know from the Oklahoma Domestic Violence Fatality Report is that when there’s a death from domestic violence, there is also a pattern that 95 percent of those victims had never accessed services.”
“We have an ethical responsibility in this community to say to those families, ‘we believe in you, we believe in your safety.”
On Tuesday, October 29, Jacqueline Steyn YWCA OKC Chief Programs Officer, will deliver a lecture on “Domestic Violence: The Hidden Epidemic” as part of OKDHS’ Practice and Policy Lecture Series at the Oklahoma History Center. This free event, from noon to 1 p.m. is open to the public. To register, call 405-948-1770 or visit www.okdhs.org/ppls.
For more information, visit www.ywcaokc.org.