Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors, including physical, emotional/psychological, and/or sexual abuse. According to the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board, “on average, an Oklahoman dies every 5 days as a result of Domestic Violence.”

In Oklahoma, almost 4 in 10 women have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime (National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey).

Domestic Violence is about power and control, not anger. It is one person’s use of abusive tactics to gain power and control over another. According to researcher, Lundy Bancroft, “Whether because of the abuser’s manipulativeness, his popularity, or simply the mind-bending contrast between his professions of love and his vicious psychological or physical assaults, every abused women finds herself fighting to make sense out of what is happening.” The abusive person thrives on utilizing such techniques to intimidate and confuse the victim.

Domestic Violence impacts the brain and behavior. It causes trauma for the victim, and she (or he) may experience symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, including hyperarousal, reexperiencing, avoidance and numbing.

This disorder has most commonly been associated with male war veterans, especially Vietnam War veterans, but anyone who has experienced trauma may display PTSD symptoms. In fact, research from the U.S.Department of Veterans Affairs suggests that women tend to experience different traumas than men. More women are victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. These unfortunate acts may influence the rest of their lives.

Dr. Bessel VanDerKolk states, “Traumatized people often have enormous difficulty telling other people what has happened. Their bodies experience terror, rage and helplessness, as well as impulse to fight or flee, but these feelings are impossible to articulate.” Therefore, traumatized people tend to respond differently, thereby causing others to assume that they weren’t truly victimized.

Once a person has been traumatized, it may become extremely challenging to truly express the full impact this incident has had on her life. They become fearful of reliving the experience. Dr. VanDerKolk states, “Traumatized people are often afraid of feeling…their own sensations become the enemy. Even though the trauma is a thing of the past, the emotional brain keeps generating sensations that make the sufferer feel scared and helpless.”

Having a supportive and non-judgmental network helps traumatized people heal. The network may include family, friends, support groups, victim advocates and therapists.

Wings of Hope Family Crisis Services provides services that help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. The trained advocates and elite therapists use a trauma-informed approach to help victims cope with the trauma they experienced.

In fiscal year 2018, more than 3,000 female and male victims sought and received support from Wings of Hope. The advocates and therapists impacted their lives by believing, empowering and supporting them through the healing process. All victims services are free.

For 24-hour support, individuals may call the 24-hour crisis line at 405- 624-3020.

Marie Abraham-Robinson is the executive director of Wings of Hope Family Crisis Service.

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