Victim advocates working to curtail domestic violence

Bringing awareness to domestic violence/sexual assault and child abuse prevention with a proclamation signed by the mayor. From left are: Kaitlynn Johnson with Department of Human Services; Ashley Craighead, DHS; Donna Owens, Help In Crisis; Mayor Jean Ann Wright; Chandra Hudson, HIC; Michelle Rye, DHS; and Michelle Rigsby, Adair County Sheriff’s Office.

 

Domestic violence is a very prevalent problem everywhere, and many people are working to curb it.

In only three months in Adair County – Jan. 1 to March 31, 2021 – HIC received 85 crisis calls, had 52 victims walk in, and assisted with an unknown number of protective orders.

Chandra Hudson has worked at HIC for a almost three years, currently as the domestic violence court advocate in Adair and Sequoyah counties.

“My role is to support the victim; assist with filing protective orders or violations of protective orders; attend court hearings with the victim; find resources such as financial services; be a liaison between the victim and law enforcement or the courts; provide peer support groups that educate on domestic violence; and complete domestic violence assessments for victims,” Hudson said.

April is Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Mayor Jean Ann Wright signed proclamations on April 1 about Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“I think it is important to promote awareness of both domestic violence and child abuse, to let people know they are not alone. We have an obligation to help anyone in these situations by being available to help them get assistance,” Wright said.

Sadly, she has seen and known far too many cases of child abuse and domestic violence. She worked at Oklahoma DHS two summers between semesters of college in the Child Welfare Division. 

“It was heart-wrenching seeing and hearing stories first-hand,” said Wright.

“To the abused, my advice would be, there is always someone out there willing to listen and assist you with help or advice. Don’t feel like you are all alone. Reach out. There are people to assist,” Wright said.

Hudson defines sexual assault as a general, non-legal term used to describe sexual crimes including rape, spousal rape, sexual battery, oral copulation, incest, etc.

“Statistically, a rapist has raped at least 10 times before being caught,” she said.

The majority of rapists are involved in consenting sexual relationships or are married. Motivations for rape include power, control, anger, and sadism, she said.

“Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain control over another intimate partner,” she said.

There are many different forms of abuse in domestic violence, such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, psychological abuse, threats, stalking, and cyberstalking. Sexual assault and domestic violence do not discriminate age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic class, or ethnicity. It can affect everyone at every age.

“The good news is help is available. Help In Crisis is a local agency that can, and will, believe and help you,” Hudson said.

HIC can offer an array of services such as court advocacy, financial services, forensic interviews and exams, parenting classes, and supervised visitations.

“We will also assist with filing the proper paperwork to assist with medical bills that are due to the assault with the Oklahoma Crime Victims Compensation. Our services are free, except supervised visitations; your income is not a factor in receiving our services. Please know we will believe you and we truly want to make your world a safer place for you to live,” Hudson said.

Their hotline number is 1-800-300-5321.

“Your information is completely confidential,” said Hudson.