Part of a community's ability to prepare for changing demographics as well as reducing the instances of crime typically associated with economic depression, involves  the education of both our healthcare  providers and area law enforcement  police. These things are paramount in a community being ready to respond to citizens facing domestic violence. When communities face changes in [...]

 

Part of a community's ability to prepare for changing demographics as well as reducing the instances of crime typically associated with economic depression, involves  the education of both our healthcare  providers and area law enforcement  police. These things are paramount in a community being ready to respond to citizens facing domestic violence. When communities face changes in income to the degree Ardmore and the surrounding areas have faced, it can strain the bonds of families, sometimes deteriorating family support until someone lashes out, starting or even resuming a cycle of dangerous behaviors which can result in bruises, hospital visits, and death.

Our community is changing, we have people from all walks of  life  as our neighbors. Maybe we differ in our incomes or preferences in cars, maybe our rituals of home vary, or our religious views  couldn't be more opposed. Maybe who we love or how we view ourselves and our genders is different from one another.

But what we all deserve is to live free from  fear in our homes.

To often, stress, poor coping skills, substance or alcohol abuse, and undiagnosed mental illnesses result in a breakdown within a home, resulting in a  family in fear.

As healthcare workers and police, we are often some off the first lines of awareness a family may come in contact with, and being able to observe, listen, and pay attention to details can be the key to saving a person's life.

And that's just what Yolanda Gay, with the Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma is out to ensure our officers and community members are prepared to do. Recently, several area police and healthcare workers attended a two day, interactive workshop aimed at two goals; first, to improve services for domestic violence victims and their families from the first response to conviction and beyond when necessary. Second, to bring people from different agencies together, providing them with a hands on exercise in domestic violence intervention.

Basically, we got to play cops for a morning.

Being a cop is a lot harder than you think.

It was nerve racking walking up to the car, trying to remember what we had learned about observing and standing, details of height and body language, evaluating two people in a moment, reading between lines never spoken. Area officers stood in as various examples of domestic violence scenarios; two brothers, a couple, two friends, and more. We even spoke about the growing need for education regarding the homosexual, transgender, and cultural diversities of our  community and state so that stereotypes and personal biases do not effect a person's ability to access quality caring help from the people whose very job it is to provide just that help.

Law enforcement spanned from Davis Police Department, Carter County Sherriff Department, Marietta Police Department, and Love County Sherriff Department. Southern Oklahoma Vo-Tech had many of their nursing students in attendance, a truly important first line defense in the fight for a healthy town. Listening to them, I felt a lot  of hope for our community as the students discussed scenarios and repsonses.   Many mental health professions, as well as first responders were in the  class, including Department of Human Services staff from Carter and Johnston County.

In asking why she is so passionate about this approach, Ms. Gay stated, “It is best practice to have a community coordinated response to crimes of domestic violence , sexual assault, and stalking. If we all come together with  th better understanding of each other's role in healing and legal process, then we will be able to hold offenders accountable for the crimes they commit and provide victims with better coordinated safety, justice, and the tools and support they need top transition from victim to survivor.”

Southern Oklahoma, evolving in our goals of creating a safe, responsive, and educated community, a true strength of our hometowns.