October 25, 2013

Moving display touches hearts in Chickasha

Jessica Lane, Staff Writer,
The Express-Star


It was hard not to notice them. 

Red cutouts of women, men, children and baby carriages made up a special population on the lawn of the Women's Service and Family Resource Center. 

The Silent Witness display, exhibited in Chickasha on Oct. 23, has traveled around the state of Oklahoma, taking a stand at various women's resource centers as a voice for those who can no longer speak out. The silhouettes represent Oklahomans killed as result of domestic violence. 

Chickasha was listening. Cars driving by the center often slowed to get a better look. 

Silent Witness is a national initiative taking place during the month of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month. On Oct. 17, there was a Silent Witness March on the south lawn of the State Capitol building. 

"The display is to let people see the seriousness of what is going on all around the Untied States," Marcia Smith, Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, said.  

The year 2013 has shown some disturbing statistics. 

Oklahoma is ranked third in the nation for women murdered by men in 2013, jumping from 17th in 2012. Over 1,500 victims have been turned away because shelters were at capacity. 

Children are often victims of domestic violence, even if they are not directly victimized by the perpetrator. Over one third of the time, a child witnesses the death of the victim. The trauma that the child experiences and the effect that has on his or her life is another impact of domestic violence. 

"There's this whole ripple effect," Smith said. 

Duncan and Chickasha resource centers help victims in the process of trying to escape domestic violence, Malinda Treadaway, Women's Service and Family Resource Center Director, said.

"We are in the business of saving lives, right now," Treadaway said. 

The four full time employees at the center are on call 24 hours a day. At any time, they may be called to go to, the police station for example, to help a victim begin their journey of escaping. They may check victims into hotel rooms, but the care they provide doesn't–and can't–end there. Food and other necessities are delivered to them because it is dangerous to have the victims out wandering around. Most victims of domestic violence are killed after they leave, Treadaway said. 

"When he knows she's not coming back. When he knows he's lost control." 

This might not happen right away. Smith said there was a case where a husband and wife had what a appeared by all involved to be an amicable separation. After the divorce, he snuck into the house where the wife was sleeping in bed with her 14-year-old daughter, forced the wife outside by knifepoint and fatally shot her.

There are about 25 volunteers, most answering phone calls for the 24 hour crisis hotline. The full time employees are contacted in the event of a crisis. 

The center is seeking more volunteers. There will be training sessions on Nov. 7-9. Call 405.222.1818 for more information. 

The crisis line is answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, Treadaway said. The crisis line is 405.222.1818. 

In the future, the center hopes to have a state of the art shelter.