With support from telecommunications giant Verizon Wireless, activists are observing Domestic Violence Awareness month in Oklahoma. Last night (Wednesday, Oct. 5) included a spotlighting of the state Capitol dome with the color purple, while today brings an awards presentation to honor advocates.
Governor Mary Fallin has joined forces with the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, YWCA and the Office of Attorney General Scott Pruitt to raise awareness of the often-silent scourge.
At the Blue Room of the Capitol on Thursday (October 6), the Coalition and Pruitt will present advocacy awards and details on the state of domestic violence.
In a statement, Fallin said, “Domestic violence has wide-ranging effects in our state on families, children and most importantly the victims. I applaud the efforts of the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (OCADVSA), as well as Verizon Wireless Oklahoma, for their work supporting victims and raising awareness.” Fallin encouraged Oklahomans to wear purple as a means of showing support for victims of domestic violence.
Steve Smith, president of Verizon Wireless Oklahoma, said in a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, “Our support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, in partnership with OCADVSA, is a part of Verizon’s year-round commitment to raising awareness of domestic violence, while also drawing attention to the resources available so we can help eliminate this problem. This is an important issue to Verizon. As a technology company connecting people with their friends and family, we have a duty to help those who, many times, are silent victims.”
Attorney General Pruitt observed, “Domestic violence is a serious crime that affects thousands of Oklahoma families each year. We must continue to raise awareness of the problem and find new ways to prevent and end the cycle of violence.” Pruitt spoke at Wednesday evening’s dome lighting, where the choir from Villa Teresa School performed.
Pruitt lamented the fact that “Oklahoma ranks 11th in the nation for the number of women killed by men. It’s crucial that we get the word out that help is available and that everyone can do their part to stop violence within our families.” Law enforcement data from last year documented 25,000 domestic violence calls, and 75 deaths.
The Blue Room event participants will include Pruitt; Michael Thompson, Oklahoma Secretary of Safety and Security; Marcia Smith, executive director of Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (OCADVSA); Emily Redman, Bryan County District Attorney and president of the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association; Evelyn Hibbs, chairwoman of OCADVSA; and Suzanne McClain Atwood, executive coordinator of the District Attorneys Council.
The 2011 Excellence in Action against Domestic Violence Award winners to be honored today are:
· Law Enforcement Officer Award: Regeneia Van Arsdale, Detective Sgt. with the Ponca City Police Department;· Prosecutor Award: Michon Hughes, former assistant district attorney for Wagoner County;
· Victim Service Advocate Award: Maria Aceves, shelter manager for the Northwest Domestic Crisis Services Inc. in Woodward.
Pruitt is hosting a reception at his office southwest of the Capitol (313 N.E. 21), an event sponsored by the coalition, Verizon and the state District Attorneys Council.
Additional information about the AG’s Victim Services Unit in the Attorney General’s office, and Domestic Violence Awareness Month resource kits, can be accessed at www.oag.ok.gov.
Information on Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities, or assistance to those in need, is available by visiting www.ocadvsa.org or calling 1-800-522-7233.
Note: Capitol Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.