The Edmond Sun

October 23, 2013

Study: Okla. third in women murdered by men

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Oklahoma is ranked No. 3 nationally for domestic violence homicides, up from No. 17 the previous year, according to a just-released study.

Earlier this month, state officials received the statistics from Violence Policy Center, a national nonprofit educational organization that conducts research and public education on violence in America and provides the information to policymakers, journalists, advocates and the general public.

Authors of the study — “When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2011 Homicide Data” — stated the U.S. Department of Justice has found that women are far more likely to be the victims of violent crimes committed by intimate partners than men, especially when a weapon is involved.

While this study does not focus solely on domestic violence homicide or guns, it provides a stark reminder that domestic violence and guns make a deadly combination, the authors stated.

“Firearms are rarely used to kill criminals or stop crimes,” the authors stated. “Instead, they are all too often used to inflict harm on the very people they were intended to protect.”

In 2011, no justifiable homicides involving women killing men occurred in Oklahoma, according to the study. That year, nationwide there were 1,707 females murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents submitted to the FBI for its Supplementary Homicide Report. There 38 such murders of women in Oklahoma in 2011.

South Carolina ranked first with a rate of 2.54 per 100,000, more than double the national average, the study found. Alaska, with 2.01 per 100,000, was second, followed by Oklahoma with 1.99 per 100,000.

Earlier this week, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and former AG Drew Edmondson co-authored a column related to the study.

“Unfortunately, these aren’t just statistics,” they wrote. “Each victim of domestic violence is someone’s child, someone’s sister, someone’s mom or dad. Domestic violence knows no party lines. It doesn’t care about your politics, the color of your skin or the balance in your bank account.” (See page A4 in today’s E-edition to read the full column.)

The study also found that for homicides in which the victim-to-offender relationship could be identified, 94 percent of female victims (1,509 out of 1,601) were murdered by a male they knew.

There were 264 women shot and killed by either their husband or intimate acquaintance during the course of an argument. And in 87 percent of all incidents where the circumstances could be determined, homicides were not related to the commission of any other felony such as rape or robbery.

Edmond Police Department spokeswoman Jenny Monroe said part of the agency’s strategy is responding rapidly to domestic calls before incidents escalate out of control.

Last year, city officers responded to 1,193 domestic in progress calls, according to the Police Department’s 2012 annual report. In 2011, there were 1,078 domestic in progress calls compared to 904 in 2010 and 1,075 in 2009. Some incidents do not end with an arrest or charges.

Jackie Shaw, executive director of Edmond Family Counseling, said the Edmond Police Department has done a good job of preventing intimate partner homicides.

Shaw said many Americans live in a fantasy world created by unrealistic expectations. Based on her experience, factors contributing to domestic incidents include various financial issues, non-traditional families, lack of self control, victims feeling irrational shame and drugs and alcohol.

Shaw encouraged individuals in abusive situations to ask themselves what are they willing to do to get help and to educate themselves about available resources. They are not alone; help is available, she said.

If you or someone you know needs help, call Oklahoma’s free confidential Safeline 24 hours a day at 1-800- 522-SAFE (7233). It offers assistance in 150 languages for safety planning and referrals to crisis centers, shelters and other state resources. Online sources include YWCA Oklahoma City (www.ywca.org) and okdvhelp.com. In the event of an emergency call 911.