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Oklahoma Voices: YWCA Campaign Addresses Domestic Violence (Oct 01, 2012)

Since 2000, Oklahoma has had more than 1,000 domestic violence homicides, and state and national statistics indicate one in four women will be a victim of domestic abuse in her lifetime.

On Tuesday, the YWCA of Oklahoma City announced it had raised more than $11 million toward a $15 million goal to build a new 85-bed emergency shelter, and transform the existing facility into an extended-stay shelter for victims and their families. Gov. Mary Fallin and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett joined organizers at an event for the capital campaign.

“Domestic abuse is a tragedy that we will work as a community to overcome,” Fallin said. “The victims of abuse and their children will now have a safe place to seek shelter and support.”

Cornett said he was pleased to see many Oklahoma City community leaders and businesses play a role in the campaign.

“I encourage all Oklahoma City residents to take an interest in this cause,” Cornett said. “Expanding the shelter will save lives.”

YWCA of Oklahoma City CEO Janet Peery says the Oklahoma Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board has looked at abuse cases adjudicated over the last 10-11 years.

“One of the key elements they’ve seen is 95 percent of those victims that ended in a homicide, never accessed emergency services, or never accessed domestic violence services,” Peery said.

On this episode of Oklahoma Voices, KGOU News Director Kurt Gwartney speaks with Peery, and Rita Moore, a member of the YWCA Board of Directors.


Janet Peery on a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of the economic impact of domestic violence.

“They showed that 7.9 million paid work days are lost every year because of domestic violence. That’s to the tune of about $800 million, then additionally, they identified at least $4.1 billion in additional medical and mental health costs that end up being attributed to businesses because of this. One of the companies that begun to take up this issue, they looked at it and saw the statistics of one in four women will be a victim. They looked at their national corporation and saw how many women they had employed after having a death of one of their employees, they really started looking at this, and said, ‘Oh my gosh, let’s look at these numbers.’ And they actually translated that into 33,000 jobs lost every year because of domestic violence.”

Rita Moore on her first encounter with domestic abuse

“[The YWCA] asked me to go to their very first safe house, their very first shelter. It was a little, small three-bedroom house, and I really didn’t want to go. I did not want to be involved in that, and I finally relented. I was shocked. Absolutely shocked. I couldn’t believe it. I walked into one bedroom, the door was closed, and I surprised one very young, 20-ish girl with a brand-new baby. A little baby, and she was napping. I surprised her, and as she sat up…that poor woman, her face, all her shoulders…she was just beaten all over. Just all over, with a brand-new baby. And I was just stunned. I couldn’t believe this. From there, my recognition of this problem began to grow, and that was probably the “A-ha!” moment. I thought, my word, this is very serious. I had never given it a lot of thought until then.”

Janet Peery on the number of people she sees affected by domestic violence

“It’s amazing how many people share, ‘I’ve been there. Thank you for doing this. You were there for me, or my sister was there, or my mother was there.’ We had a young woman who came, a couple of years ago, and said, ‘Can I just come visit and share my story with you?’ A very educated woman, who’s developed and sold software, and received an award from Microsoft for her software, is an executive in our community. The story that she told me was that 20 years ago, when our gates closed behind her, was the first time she thought she actually had an opportunity that she would live. We all want to think this happens to somebody not like me, whoever ‘me’ looks like, it doesn’t happen to someone like me. What we find over and over and over again is, it happens to our neighbors, our friends, the people we go to church with. The people we go to school with. It’s there. The hard part is it’s so often kept silent. Victims blame themselves. They’re embarrassed, especially if they’re a person of education, and means, and it’s like, ‘How could I have this happen to me?’ So they keep it silent, and it’s the silence that perpetrates this crime.”

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