MAking A Difference
Domestic & Sexual Violence
Are Shockingly Prevalent in Oklahoma
Data from the National Violence Against Women Survey reflect that the lifetime prevalence of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking towards women by an intimate partner is greater in Oklahoma than in any other state in our nation.
1 in 4 women in our nation will be beaten or raped during adulthood. This rate is undoubtedly higher in Oklahoma because of the data quoted above in the National Violence Against Women Survey.
Oklahoma is sixth in the nation in the number of women who are murdered by their husband or an intimate partner.
A number of studies have suggested that domestic and sexual violence rates among those who regularly attend church are nearly the same as those in the general population. These victims often first seek help from their pastor or other faith leader. Unfortunately, though, a significant majority of key faith leaders have not received specific education or training in the areas of domestic abuse and sexual assault and are not knowledgeable about the local resources available to assist victims in their communities.
Women who are religious can be especially vulnerable when abused if they seek assistance from a pastor or other faith leader who has no specific education or training in domestic and sexual violence and who is not knowledgeable about local resources available to assist victims.
A recent survey of 1,000 randomly chosen pastors from all protestant denominations ("Broken Silence: A Call for Churches to Speak Out") revealed that most pastors who have responded to incidents of violence within their congregation may be handling them inappropriately or even harmfully because their lack of education and training.
A significant majority (62%) of these pastors stated that they have responded to domestic violence by providing couples marriage counseling. The first step in assisting domestic violence victims or potential victims should be ensuring their immediate safety. Recommending that a domestic violence victim remain at home with her abusive spouse or partner and continue to work on their issues can result in devastating consequences for the safety, health, and even life of the victim and others who live in the home.
Eighty-one per cent (81%) of these pastors say they would welcome an opportunity to receive appropriate education and training. They recognize that they need to know more about these issues to better protect and assist victims of domestic and sexual violence.
U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. 2010.
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 2003. Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States. Center for Disease Control and Prevention Atlanta BA: 2. cited in General Assembly. 2006: 137.
YWCA, Oklahoma City, 2015.
Oklahoma Attorney General’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board. Annual Report. 2014.
IMA World Health and Sojourners. Broken Silence: A Call for Churches to Speak Out (Protestant Pastors Survey on Sexual and Domestic Violence). 2014.
National Violence Against Women Survey. Black, Brasile, Breiding, Smith, Walters, Warrick, Chen, Stevens. 2011