Oklahoma City's family justice center, Palomar, is celebrating its second year of helping domestic violence victims.
In the past two years, Palomar has grown from 16 agencies to 28 housed in one building, and they continue to see more people coming through the door every day.
To date, Palomar has provided 16,421 services for those in need, with everything from counseling to childcare as victims navigate an escape.
“Collaboration is the only way we can make sure our clients, our victims in our community, are really getting the services and offenders are being held accountable,” says client services director Vanessa Morrison. “If we’re not working together, we cannot do this work.”
Morrison says bringing these agencies together has sparked new ways to make the process as easy as possible.
“We now have a digital system where we can do VPOs, print them off and take them down to the courthouse, file it for the client and they’re ready to go,” she says, “so that has shaved off an hour on average.”
The results speak for themselves. Domestic-related 911 calls are down 8.4%, with Oklahoma City police receiving 34.984 calls about abuse in 2017 and 32,123 calls in 2018.
Fewer children are being impacted by domestic violence as well. In 2017, 33% of DHS cases had domestic violence as a contributing factor, but in 2018, just 20% of DHS cases were related to domestic violence.
Read Also: Palomar Gives HOPE To Kids Exposed To Trauma In OKC
Pets are also finding a safe haven during crisis through Palomar's animal advocate.
“They’re really working hard to make sure pets are not forgotten in these dynamics,” Morrison says. “It’s the only position in the country like this.”
Palomar staff members are also trying to better help those suffering abuse by someone other than an intimate partner.
Morrison says, “Elder abuse is a very significant issue in our community, so wrapping around their unique needs is something that we’re always thinking about.”
The family justice center is still working to bring in nurses to perform rape kits on victims, and they hope to one day provide video conferencing for the court systems, so victims will no longer have to face their abusers in the same room.
If you or a loved one are experiencing domestic violence and need help, call the Oklahoma State Safeline at 1(800) 522-SAFE (7233). To connect with Palomar, click here.