Oklahoma City is at the center of a new Washington Post report on domestic violence. The statistics are shocking, but we are one of the cities working hard to fix the problem.
Over the past year, the Washington Post has studied the past decade of homicide data. The lead investigative reporter on the story, Katie Zezima, tells News 9 the country is nearing crisis levels of domestic violence nationwide, and agencies have to work fast to reverse the trend.
Out of all the women killed in Oklahoma City since 2007, the Washington Post found that 45% of them died at the hands of their intimate partner. That mirrors the national numbers.
“A number of cities don’t report all of their homicide data, so we believe the number is actually much higher than that,” Zezima says.
Zezima tells News 9 that of the men who have killed their partners, more than a third of them had protective orders or previous criminal charges filed against them.
“Everyone knows if something is happening, a woman is told to file a restraining order, but as someone we spoke to in our story said, they are not a bullet proof vest,” she says.
The report highlights Oklahoma City's Desirae Parnell, who tried to escape the father of her children, but he eventually killed her in the parking lot of her job.
Since the family justice center Palomar opened, victims are now taking lethality assessments at the first sign of domestic abuse.
“A trained police officer will look at it, and if she scores very high will say to her you are in grave danger,” Zezima says.
They can be connected to services right at the scene. When victims do not want to press charges, some cities are prosecuting their abuser without them, relying on the evidence they have.
Others still are bringing agencies together after each domestic homicide to determine where the system failed, learning from their mistakes to work toward a safer future for all.
To connect to victim services throughout Oklahoma, you can call the State Safeline at 1-800-522-SAFE. To learn more about the resources at Palomar, click here.