OKLAHOMA CAPITOL-- October is recognized nationally and in Oklahoma as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence continues to be a serious issue in Oklahoma, impacting women, men and families, as well as employers and coworkers. In our state, about 21 percent of women and 10 percent of men are victims of domestic abuse, which contributes to unsafe living conditions and more children in foster care.
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the state’s sixth largest employer, is taking steps to increase awareness among its employees so they may aid co-workers and all victims in getting help as quickly as possible, ultimately preventing tragic ends to situations of domestic violence. Ten percent of OKDHS employees participating in domestic violence training self-reported as victims.
To increase employee awareness and education, the agency recently created an agency-wide domestic violence task force to spearhead activities, which include a Domestic Violence Awareness Month “purple ribbon” campaign in October, training classes and a comprehensive domestic violence resources website, www.okdhs.org/purpleribbon (Link opens in new window).
“We ultimately want to stop domestic violence before it starts,” said Victoria Harrison, co-chair of the OKDHS Domestic Violence Task Force. “We not only want to help our co-workers who are impacted by domestic violence, we want our employees to help spread the word to families, friends, neighbors and clients.
The agency’s domestic violence awareness efforts are also aimed at reducing child abuse and improving the well-being of our state’s children.
“Domestic violence has a huge impact on child welfare,” said Deborah Smith, OKDHS Director of Child Welfare Services. “Fifty percent of all child welfare cases include reported domestic violence. And one-third of all homicides are witnessed by a child. This kind of emotional trauma plays a significant role in a child’s development and well-being, and it is one of the biggest risk factors of passing violent behavior from one generation to the next.”
OKDHS encourages anyone who is a victim of domestic violence, or knows someone who is, to get help by calling Safeline at 800-522-SAFE (1-800-522-7233). The toll-free, 24-hour, confidential hotline provides help and information for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.