OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – It’s a sad statistic; Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of women killed by men in the country.
The most recent study from the Violence Policy Center shows Oklahoma ranks third for the number of female homicide victims per 100,000 women.
To make matters even more troubling, local advocates say we’re seeing younger and younger victims, including teenagers, being impacted by domestic violence.
“The most dangerous thing for women in our communities are their romantic partners,” said Angela Beatty, who is part of the boots-on-the-ground effort to save lives at the YWCA of Oklahoma City.
She says studies show it takes an average of seven to 11 tries before women leave these violent situations.
“Because abusers give Oscar-worthy performances of ‘I’m sorry baby, I’ll never do it again,'” she said.
It’s not just adults who are victimized.
Oklahoma’s youngest domestic homicide victim was just 13-years-old.
“Teen abusers are calling constantly or not allowing their victims to spend time with their friends and family and if they do, there are repercussions from that,” said Beatty.
Beatty adds that the isolation of the pandemic has made things worse for those suffering.
Signs of abuse often went unnoticed and abusers used COVID-19 as a way to control.
“We had abusers tell people they were COVID positive, so no one would try to help the victims,” she said.
One of the biggest hurdles in this fight, she says, is cases being dismissed, charges dropped and abusers not being held accountable.
“It’s pretty challenging when the punishment for assaulting a stranger is more significant than the punishment for assaulting a family member,” said Beatty.
If you notice a loved one is facing abuse, she says the best thing you can do is be there for them.
“That you’re ready to talk when they are but that person has to be ready,” Beatty said.
If you feel someone is in immediate danger, you can always call the police.
The YWCA has plenty of safe spaces and hotlines for victims and those concerned for them as well.
The Oklahoma Safeline number is 800-522-7233.