Oklahoma ranks 3rd in rate of women murdered by men
TAHLEQUAH – With October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Violence Policy Center released its annual “When Men Murder Women” study. Within it, Oklahoma ranks third and is “nearly twice the national average” with 2.31 per 100,000 of women being murdered by men.
The study reported that of the nearly 2,000 women murdered in which a victim to offender relationship could be identified, 92% of them were killed by men they knew and that the most common weapon used was a gun.
In reports when race was identified, 1.31 per 100,000 Native women were murdered by males and they were murdered “at a higher rate than white females.”
Since race is not always identified, Shawna Duch, Cherokee Nation’s ONE FIRE Victim Services interim director, said ONE FIRE “does not have a full picture” of Native, or Cherokee, women who are missing or murdered.
“The databases that hold the statistics of these cases are outdated and greatly underreported” she said. “I think it’s important that we keep better statistics on it just for the fact…if they do get reported then we’re more able to help with the problem.”
Duch said in 2019, ONE FIRE had 302 new client intakes and approximately 800 clients were helped with monetary and/or referral and advocacy services.
She said as of Oct. 16, ONE FIRE has had 195 new client intakes. She added that in 2020, ONE FIRE also began tracking monetary services separately from referral and advocacy services.
With the new tracking, Duch said monetary services have been provided to 425 new and existing clients and there have been more than 1,000 referral and advocacy client services.
“We are already reflecting about a 25% increase from last year in clients requesting some type of service,” said Duch. “I do believe our numbers are and will continue to increase due to the pandemic.”
Duch said if people are in situations where they are abused and/or fear for their lives they should reach out for help and plan an exit. She added that if they are in immediate danger they should call 911.
“No one deserves to be abused. Call ONE FIRE or another domestic violence hotline or shelter for advice,” she said. “Make the call at a safe time, when the abuser is not around, or from a friend’s house or other safe location. Pack an emergency bag that includes items you will need when you leave, such as extra clothes and keys, personal items and important paperwork. Leave or hide the bag in a safe place.”
She said if a person knows of a loved one being abused to “let them know you are concerned and there to listen.”
“Never blame someone for the relationship or the situation they are currently in,” she said. “Encourage your loved one that help is available. Local resources can provide a variety of services including shelter and/or referrals for emergency shelter and other needs such as counseling.”
Duch said ONE FIRE offers services including court accompaniment, filing police reports and referrals for housing and legal help. She added that the program “does not discriminate” and provides aid to those who qualify and reside within the tribe’s reservation.
Duch, who’s been in victim services approximately 20 years, said ONE FIRE has transitioned more into “healing programs.” She pointed to ONE FIRE’s fully furnished, seven-unit transitional housing “for survivors and their minor children” in Adair County. She added that they can stay in a unit for up to 12 months while receiving support, resources and services “to meet their transitional housing needs.”
“Many times our clients return to their batterer or enter into another violent relationship because they have nowhere else to go,” she said. “Now we take them in, keep them longer, help them with the healing period and recovery period.”
Duch said those seeking transitional housing “must be 18 years of age or older, or be an emancipated minor.” Resources within the Cherokee Nation
ONE FIRE Emergency Helpline: 1-866-458-5399
ONE FIRE Non-Emergency: 918-772-4260
Help-In-Crisis (Tahlequah): 918-456-4357
Safenet Services (Claremore): 918-341-9400
Domestic Violence Intervention Services (Tulsa): 918-743-5763