Troubling new numbers out from the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation show domestic abuse is on the rise across Oklahoma.
According to the report, there were more than 27,000 cases of domestic abuse reported in 2020, a 3% increase over 2019. Experts said COVID-19 lockdowns likely exacerbated those situations.
“I am not as surprised as some, but I am still continuously alarmed at the increasing number,” Brandon Pasley with the Young Women’s Christian Association said.
The YWCA provides care and hope to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking in central Oklahoma.
“The stressors don’t cause domestic violence. They escalate them,” Pasley said. “Each of their coercive tactics (they) can double down on those things behind closed doors, no matter what it looks like outside. So, if they never leave (home), there’s no opportunities for anyone to reach out for help.”
The 2020 data puts the state at a 20-year high for domestica abuse. OU Health's trauma center medical director Dr. Roxie Albrecht said the hospital saw a spike early in the pandemic and another uptick over the last couple months.
“During COVID, we have seen an increase in violence, interpersonal violence and suicide rates,” Dr. Albrecht said. “I hope they level off. It’s saddening to see that.”
According to OSBI, 61 Oklahomans were murdered as a result of domestic abuse last year. More than 1,200 were victims of sex crimes.
Pasley wants people in abusive situations to know there are resources available 24/7 to help escape.
“So many victims and survivors don’t have access to the resources they need, whether it’s because of other circumstances or because of the perpetrator, that they don’t have the means with which to let you leave,” Pasley said.
If you or someone you know are in an abusive situation, the 24-hour, statewide help line can be reached at 1-800-522 SAFE (7233.)