Tulsa, Oklahoma – The Tulsa County numbers are staggering! 25,230 crisis line calls .2,800 people seeking protective orders .443 victims of rape and sexual assault . 2,012 perpetrators of domestic violence .. 1,576 survivors of domestic violence. Those are the totals for last year from Domestic Violence Intervention Services.
The Assistant Director is Donna Mathews and getting to the conference room at the DVIS Family Safety Center for an interview was no easy task. Security is extremely tight. Before I was allowed out of the lobby, a security guard took my name and the radio station's contact information. Next, I agreed to sign a confidentiality waiver agreeing not to talk with or disclose the names of any client I should come in contact with once behind the looked door.
Mathews says the victims of domestic violence need that feeling of safety. Walking down the hallway, I notice a room filled with women filling emergency protective orders.
Those emergency protective orders can be granted on the spot. Mathews says that gives the clients an extra level of comfort. To get the permanent protective orders the clients will have to go downtown to the county court house.
The emergency shelter usually operates at about 70-percent capacity, but now it is nearly full.
What has caused that jump?
Mathews stops just short of saying it is the economy. She points the blame at stress, often brought on by a change in financial circumstances. Mathews is quick to point out that is not an acceptable excuse.
There is yet another problem they have been seeing .. an increase in Latino victims. The do have translators on staff to help.
So far we have focused on women being the victims, but Mathews admits that is not always the case. Men are also abused, sometimes physically--but often verbally. She says they do offer services to men.