By Scott Pruitt and Drew Edmondson
Special to The Sun
OKLA. CITY —
With Washington’s bitter divide dominating the news, we wanted to take a moment to display the unity that makes our state great, and our nation a beacon to the world.
October marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Although we come from different sides of the political aisle, our collective experience serving as the state’s chief legal officer has shown us first-hand the devastating impact domestic violence has on Oklahoma families and communities.
We have worked with countless moms through the AG’s Address Confidentiality Program to keep them and their children hidden from their abusers, helped another 20,000-plus sign up for the VINE program to receive notice of prisoner release or transfer, and provided a home and hope for the overwhelming number of families with children who pack our state’s domestic violence shelters looking for refuge. We cannot let them down.
This month, we received the latest statistics on Oklahoma’s national ranking for domestic violence homicides, and it isn’t good. The Violence Policy Center ranked Oklahoma third in the nation in the number of women murdered by men, up from 17th the year before. Statistics from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation show that Oklahoma law enforcement agencies received more than 24,000 reports of domestic violence in 2011.
Unfortunately, these aren’t just statistics. 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.
Many victims of violence live this nightmare in secret; too ashamed or too dejected to get help. No one is immune to these grim numbers. Because of that, we need everyone to take notice and speak up.
It is because of these statistics and the people they represent that we stand together today, not as Republican or Democrat, but as Oklahomans.
We unite to tell Oklahomans of every political stripe that domestic violence is a crime, and to ask for their support for the abused, for the brave men and women in law enforcement and for the dedicated victim advocates across Oklahoma. They deserve our support.
Domestic violence is a serious issue that requires a serious response. The offenders must be punished; the victims supported. Oklahoma leaders and law enforcement must continue to work to change the culture of domestic violence in Oklahoma.
On this we can agree.
If you or someone you know needs help, call Oklahoma’s free Safeline 24 hours a day at 800-522-SAFE.
ATTORNEY GENERAL Scott Pruitt, a Republican, succeeded Drew Edmondson in 2011. Edmondson, a Democrat, served four terms as Oklahoma’s attorney general from 1995-2011.