Lawton_Financial struggles can lead to violence in the home, and the Marie Detty New Directions Women's Shelter says that is happening here in Lawton. As more people face uncertainties such as unemployment and/or financial insecurity, it can translate into more tension at home.
Counselor Jennifer Brink says she has seen an increase in the number of women seeking shelter at New Directions, and she says the economy has something to do with it. "We know that the economy does tend to affect people's drinking and drug behavior," she said. She says that compounded problems have led to more domestic abuse cases at the shelter. "Right now, some people don't have any place to go so they have to come here," she said. "This is usually the last resort for most people."
Economic downturn causes stress, and Brink says many vent their frustration and anger by abusing loved ones. Lawton Police Department (LPD) reports an increase in abuse cases, too. Since April, 2008, there have been 865 domestic abuse cases reported in Lawton - about 96 cases per month. They say that January is continuing that trend, and the month isn't over yet.
LPD says 101 cases so far have been reported this month, and because abuse and economic stress are so closely tied, police fear the trend may continue for a while. "Not having any money, not having any funds, there's no jobs - they are having a hard time finding a job," said Brink. "In the past, they find a job usually very quickly, but it might take them a few weeks to find a job now."
The shelter also is noticing that women are staying in shelters longer. "Now, because of the housing list, and the job market, and everything else, it can take 45 to 60 days to get them on their feet and where they need to be," Brink said. Brink says there are several signs that indicate domestic abuse may occur. She says the first is verbal abuse - name calling. She says it then moves to economic abuse - the abuser hoards money. Finally, it escalates to physical abuse.