Impact Of Domestic Violence On Children, Women

Wednesday, June 18th 2014, 6:04 pm
By: News 9

News 9 is looking into the emotional fallout of the deadly attacks involving three women in the metro this past week.

One woman was raped and killed in The Village last week. Her friend was also raped but survived. And Oklahoma City Police are still looking for a man accused of beating and raping a pregnant woman so badly, he killed her unborn child.

6/17/2014 Related Story: Police Search For Suspect Wanted For Rape and Murder In SE OKC

As it turns out, both attacks took place while young children were inside the home and that can have a profound effect on a child's psyche.

"They don't have the ability to stop what's happening around them," said Jennifer Thomas, the senior director of Children's Services at the YWCA in Oklahoma City.

Thomas says these children need to be helped in order to stop the vicious cycle.

"They have a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness," Thomas said.

6/17/2014 Related Story: ME Releases Cause Of Death For The Village Murder Victim

Thomas says many children are also just too afraid to talk about or report the abuse they see and hear. She says often times a child may try to hide his or her feelings and pretend to be asleep, hoping the violence will just go away.

Thomas says some will try to immerse themselves in school or activities to try to avoid the abuse and hide from the guilt and shame that goes with it. But Thomas says other children end up acting out and mimicking the violent behavior as well, and end up perpetuating the vicious cycle.

"So we have to work really hard to try to break that cycle," said Thomas.

6/13/2014 Related Story: One Woman Dead, Another Injured After Early Morning Attack In The Village

But Thomas says breaking that cycle is not always easy, especially when the parents of these children keep going back to their abusers. She says there is usually a reason some women are afraid to break free.

"Maybe she really believes if she leaves he will kill her," said Thomas. "Or maybe she really believes if she leaves, he will get custody of the children and that's a big factor."

Thomas says safety should be a parent's number one priority and she encourages anyone in an abusive relationship to get out now. She says they have advocates on call 24 hours a day that can help develop a safety plan. Just call the YWCA safe line at (405) 917-9922.

Oklahoma ranks third in the nation for deaths attributed to domestic violence, and 11th in the nation in the number of women killed by men. And the latest stats show officers in Oklahoma's four largest cities respond to a domestic violence call once every eight minutes.

As it turns out in 2012, Oklahoma City police officers were dispatched to more than 36,000 domestic violence calls.

6/16/2014 Related Story: New Details In Deadly Attack In The Village

6/13/2014 Related Story: Village Police Arrest Suspect Wanted For Murder, Rape