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Okla. Domestic Violence Awareness Month Kicks Off

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LAWTON Okla_ Someone is the victim of domestic violence in Oklahoma every 21 seconds.

Throughout the state, close to 50% percent of women and 40% percent of men have experienced a violent act by their intimate partner. That's why October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month: to spotlight what happens far too often in too many households.

Here in Lawton, two out of the last three homicides had a direct tie to domestic violence. Chief Smith said he sees a steady flow of incidents involving domestic violence that send victims to the hospital every week. That's why Lawton police are hoping to encourage victims to have a voice to begin to stop the violence.

"It affects all of us," Smith said.

Smith describes it as the crime that knows no boundaries.

"Nobody is immune," Smith said. "Rich, poor, black, white; no matter what station of life that you are in, it affects everyone."

Smith said it's commonly referred to as a silent crime, one that is much too often not reported. He said he wants both men and women to understand domestic violence is never acceptable.

"Realize that this is not normal," Smith said. "There is no such thing as a perfect marriage. You know, people are going to have some ups and downs, but an abusive relationship is not normal."

Most of the time, victims think seeking help is a sign of weakness, but Smith said it is actually a sign of strength.

"Making that first step is a very strong statement on the victim's part, because they have been torn down for so long emotionally and physically," Smith said.

Despite the common reluctance to leave, Chief Smith said it's essential for victims to get out of the situation, especially if there are children in the home.

"Unfortunately, kids that grow up in a very violent household grow up to be abusers," Smith said. "It just continues the circle of violence."

That circle of violence is something that can be stopped. That's why Chief Smith wants all victims to know they aren't alone and the violence they are facing isn't their fault.

"This is a crime," Smith said. "This is not your fault. There is assistance out there that can help you."

If you are looking for additional education or resources on domestic violence, there will be a public forum at Lawton City Hall on October 24th from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Governor Mary Fallin has declared this Thursday, October 3rd to be "Wear Purple Day" in Oklahoma. She hopes the state will come together to show its support for victims of domestic violence and to raise awareness for the rapidly-growing crime.  

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