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Oklahoma agencies hold summit to discuss state’s domestic violence issues

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Oklahoma is ranked sixth in the country when it comes to deaths as a result of domestic violence, and now leaders are rallying for change in state policies when it comes to abuse.

Several agencies including the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women, the YWCA of Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition and the Attorney General’s Office held the 2016 Solutions, Initiatives, and Strategies Summit, to discuss Oklahoma’s domestic violence issue and how to prevent it.

The summit was held on Thursday morning on the campus of Oklahoma City Community College.

"I don't think many Oklahomans know the challenges we have as a state. We're always in the top 10,” Attorney General Scott Pruitt said about the state's staggering domestic violence statistics.

"What I want people to know that happened that day was a bad, bad argument that went bad,” a domestic violence victim told NewsChannel Four back in 2009.

She was sitting just outside a courtroom where her husband was charged and sentenced for pouring gasoline over her head and setting her on fire.

Yet, she insisted it was her fault.

"If I had just left him alone and not walked out in that garage this wouldn't being going on today,” she said.

Her burns were still very visible after being hospitalized for more than a month.

During another domestic violence incident, Oklahoma City Police were called to a similar scenario involving a woman and her estranged husband.

She, too, was doused her with gasoline and set on fire in front of their three young children.

Even arrest didn't stop the man’s violence. He kicked out a back window of a police car.

Both are extreme cases of domestic violence in which the victims lived.

However, that's not always the case.

There have been 1,400 domestic violence deaths in Oklahoma since 1998, and state officials are trying to educate, not only the public, but law enforcement about the warning signs.

Sometimes people are not the only victims.

"Often pets are hurt in the household. If pets are being hurt, so is a human,” domestic violence survivor and advocate Deb Stanaland said.

For years, Stanaland has worked with the YWCA and says victims often blame themselves for abuse - a rampant problem too many times fought alone.

"We need to have judges paying attention. We need to have judges who are taking domestic violence seriously and not letting abusers slide,” she said.

To report incidents of domestic violence or to seek help, call the statewide 24-hour hotline at 1-800-522-SAFE (7233).

For other resources to assist victims of domestic abuse, contact the Attorney General’s Victim Services Unit at (405) 521-3921 or (918) 581-2885.