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What resources are there for Oklahomans experiencing domestic violence?

Ally Stephens experienced domestic abuse in 2020, and she's advocated for awareness on services to support domestic violence victims.
Ally Stephens experienced domestic abuse in 2020, and she's advocated for awareness on services to support domestic violence victims.

Ally Stephens experienced domestic abuse about three years ago, and her then-boyfriend, Gage Ford, was found guilty of two felony counts and one misdemeanor after beating her while she was pregnant. Three years later, during Domestic Violence Awareness month, Stephens and local agencies want Oklahomans to know more about available services for victims.

Oklahoma ranks second in the nation for women killed in single victim and offender incidents in the U.S. Agencies like the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and Palomar — a family justice center — aim to lower that number and support victims of domestic violence.

Wraparound services provided by the agencies include things like checking on a victim's financial status and counsel from on-site mental health providers. Victims can also connect to 24/7 resources like the Oklahoma Safe Line and 988 to offer support in the immediate aftermath and years to come.

Stephens called the Oklahoma Safe Line one day when the smell of a certain body wash unexpectedly triggered memories from her relationship. She said everything from Facebook memories to certain smells can cause things to resurface, and it’s important to have access to 24/7 support.

“Whenever someone messages me on Instagram and asks me what I did, I always send the domestic violence hotline because, even if you're not in immediate danger, the domestic violence hotline will still let you talk, and they'll listen to you,” Stephens said.

Stephens said she uses her Instagram to share her story and resources so people who have experienced domestic violence don’t feel alone.

"I still think that it's not taken as seriously as it should, because there are a lot of partnerships that are domestic violence related in Oklahoma,” Stephens said. “That's kind of why I still do things like this, even three years later, because I just don't feel like it's taken seriously enough, and a lot of girls are scared to report it, and men never report it … because they’re scared to get their masculinity taken.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond said in a news release Oklahoma’s rate of domestic violence is “unconscionable and intolerable.” He said everyone must work together to protect victims and their families.

“While my office and I are committed to reducing incidents of domestic violence, it is also critical that organizations like Oklahoma City’s Palomar and Tulsa’s Family Safety Center are making a positive and enduring difference for survivors,” Drummond said in the release.

If you are in crisis or need support, call 988 or Oklahoma’s Safe Line at 1-800-522-SAFE.

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Jillian Taylor has been StateImpact Oklahoma's health reporter since August 2023.
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