Community Partners Work Together to Raise Awareness about Domestic Violence
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Throughout the month, the Cleveland County Coordinated Community Response team (CCRT) will be working with the Women’s Resource Center to actively engage the community at local events, raising awareness about the perils of domestic violence on individuals, families and the community.
CCRT is a multidisciplinary team made up of advocates and forensic nurses from The Women’s Resource Center, offender management professionals from Oklahoma Court Services, detectives from Norman Police Department and Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office, prosecutors from the District Attorney’s office, Legal Aid Attorneys, and Batterer’s Intervention Professionals.
The goal of CCRT is to create a victim-centered culture in the community and to hold offenders accountable. Many in the community may not know the scope and extent of domestic violence in Cleveland County.
“One of the biggest goals of the CCRT is to bring together professionals from the community who play a role in the response to domestic violence,” Jennifer Hovland, Chair of the CCRT said. “By sitting at the same table, we are able to be proactive and not just reactive to these situations.”
To better understand the full scope of what happens in Cleveland county, CCRT has compiled several important statistics about our community.
The Women’s Resource Center provided emergency shelter to 230 adults and children who were escaping violent homes. The Satellite Office helped 344 women and men with VPO assistance, and facilitated 39 groups through the Domestic Violence Education Program. Forensic Nurses at the Women’s Resource Center provided medical care to 42 victims last fiscal year and are on track to see 50 victims this year.
“The number of victims served continues to increase,” Kristy Stewart, Executive Director of the Women’s Resource Center said. “Partnerships with members of the CCRT, and other outreach efforts have increased awareness of our services, so more people know we are here and ready to help.”
There have been 706 VPOs filed so far this year in Cleveland County.
The District Attorney’s office filed charges on 247 cases of domestic violence in 2018 so far with 64% of those cases involving felony charges associated with strangulation. In fact, 67% of the deadly weapon charges filed by that office were related to domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is a public health and safety issue that affects the entire community and deserves a community wide response,” Patrick Crowe of the Cleveland County District Attorney’s Office said. “It shouldn’t be kept hidden behind closed doors or handled by the family alone.”
Assistant District Attorney, Jacobi Whatley added, “Part of the work the CCRT does is to help the public and other community responders understand the dynamics of domestic violence such as its effects on children. It’s believed that 1 in 15 children experience domestic violence in the home directly or indirectly and they are affected by that exposure. Many people don’t understand why it takes victims so long to report and why it can be so difficult to get out of that situation.”
It has been known for many years that responding to domestic violence calls is one of the most dangerous calls that police officers answer. New research also links histories of domestic violence and mass shooters, as well as other types of criminal acts. So far in 2018 the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office has reported more than 800 cases of disturbance calls with the majority being domestic in nature; there have been 48 VPO violations; nearly 200 harassments and threats in person and via threatening calls; forty-four assaults; and 49 assault and battery calls.
“Domestic violence is a serious crime and should have a zero-tolerance policy in all communities,” Detective Ronnie Johnson of the Sheriff’s Office said. “CCRT is one way that Cleveland County is trying to address this terrible issue, by working as a team using a multidiscipline approach to investigation and prosecution of intimate partner violence.”
So far in 2018, the Norman Police Department has responded to 720 calls for service regarding a domestic disturbance. Of those 134 arrests were made, with 38 including strangulation. Strangulation is one of the highest indicators of a potentially deadly situation for both the abuse victim and for responding officers.
“CCRT is working to increase community outreach and education on intimate partner violence as a proactive measure to increase the safety of people abused by intimate partners,” Sgt. Detective Ray Goins said. “Law enforcement in Cleveland County host and present classes for law enforcement officers and other disciplines in order to improve offender accountability in intimate partner cases.”
Amber Scroggins, APRN is the SANE Coordinator for the Women’s Resource Center. She states that the healthcare community is a vital link in addressing this issue.
“Training healthcare providers to ask their patients about violence in their lives is so important,” Scroggins said. “Patients have spoken in focus groups and studies and said that they want their healthcare providers to ask them about this, they trust us and turn to us for help. The work of the Women’s Resource Center and the CCRT is changing and saving lives. But we also need a community that has no tolerance for violent behavior and supports holding violent individuals accountable.”
Please join the CCRT in attending the many activities and awareness events in the community throughout the month of October. You can also reach out to any of the CCRT members to learn more about this issue and how you can be part of the solution.
WRC will be at the following events in October:
- Silent Witness Display – Tuesday, October 16 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Moore Public Library, 225 S. Howard Ave., Moore, OK
- Silent Witness Display – Wednesday, October 17 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Noble Public Library, 204 N. 5th, Noble, OK 73068
- Silent Witness Display – Thursday, October 18 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Norman Public Library, 225 S. Webster, Norman, OK 73069
- Silent Witness Display – Friday, October 19 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Purcell Public Library, 919 N. 9th, Purcell, Ok
- Domestic Violence Awareness Bubble Release – Monday, October 22 – 12 p.m. 617 W. Rock Creek Rd., Norman, OK 73072
More about the WRC:
The Women’s Resource Center provides Emergency Shelter, a Rape Crisis Center, advocacy, court advocacy, safety planning, sexual assault and domestic violence forensic exams, counseling, Domestic Violence Education Group, Sexual Trauma support group, Sexual Trauma social group, prevention education and community education.
Domestic Violence Crisis line: (405) 701-5540
Sexual Violence Crisis line: (405) 701-5660