By DON BARNES
Oct. 1, 2011 marks the beginning of “Domestic Violence Awareness Month”. So, I am devoting this column to that issue with the hope and prayer that this might help someone in need of this information and want to take advantage of the services offered for abuse victims in LeFlore County.
First off, Oklahoma ranks at number 11 with the most domestic violence of all 50 states. And, here in LeFlore County we DO have some of it. And, since it was established in 1988, the Leflore County Women’s Crisis Center has served an estimated 15,000 abuse victims, including women and children.
Nona Carmack and a group of men and women in this area contacted me and asked me to help them raise money to start the center. With the permission of the radio station owner, the late Vic Nowlin, we conducted a “radio hijack” of “The King Bee” (107.3) radio station KINB-FM (now KOMS-FM) here in Poteau on Feb. 14 (Valentine’s Day 1988) and raised enough money to get the center started in the old building it was in.
Since then, Steve and Pam Holton and the Holton family have donated a very generous contribution to a new and larger building for the center. A grant from the Kerr Foundation was also obtained. Center Manager Sissy Carden tells me that people all over LeFlore County have contributed and helped the new facility become a reality.
This year alone they have had over 650 contacts and there are now 27 residents of the center. They can accommodate abused women and their children. The center has achieved a rating of 99.8 by the Oklahoma State Attorney General’s offices. Age guidelines are; they will accept as young as 18 year olds or if the woman is pregnant they will take 16-year-olds.
There are many circumstances that will subject a woman and children to physical abuse. Alcohol is often the reason. But, quite often the abuser is a person who has been raised witnessing their parent or both parents abusing each other.
How well off the couple are financially is not always a factor, they can be either rich or poor. And, often a woman will stay in a situation where she is abused simply because she feels she has no other choice. She has become totally dependent upon her spouse. That may be because of a lack of education and not being able to earn enough to support herself and the children, if children are affected.
One of the best ways to avoid falling into such a “trap” is for the women to strive to get a higher education and increase their earning capacity either by attending college or a trade school.
If you are a victim of domestic violence or physical abuse, the LeFlore County Women’s Crisis Center may be able to answer many questions you may have like; how to stay safe, how to get ready to leave the abuser, how to get a restraining order to keep the abuser from contacting you, how to find a lawyer or get legal help, what is sexual abuse, what forms you need to fill out and, a host of other questions you may need answers to.
The first step is to call the LeFlore County Women’s Crisis Center at (918) 647-9800. If you have a computer and access to the internet there are resources available there too. If you do not have a computer or internet access you could go to the library and use their computer. They can help.
Regardless of how you seek help you should by all means take measures to protect yourself and the children, if you have children, get help before it is too late to do so.
I am sure you have heard the saying “the family that prays together stays together”? Getting your abusive spouse and the family together around the dinner table and saying a few heartfelt prayers would be an excellent way of achieving peace and tranquility for the entire family. That would also be a way of setting a good example for the children to prevent them from growing up to be abusers themselves.
That is something that all families should do, to gather for dinner every evening and talk over the important things in their lives and share “special moments” or discuss problems with each other.
Always remember our national motto “In God We Trust”! God Bless American Again….Please !