By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- A total of 74 people were killed because of domestic violence in Oklahoma last year. That number ranks the state ninth in the nation. More of those murders happened in Tulsa County than any other county in the state.
Of some recent cases studied, the oldest victim was 91 and the youngest, less than a day old. A third of these murders were witnessed by a child.
Emily is 21-years-old and seven months pregnant. Her life was pretty normal until about a year ago. She had a job, an apartment and a car. Then, she fell for a guy who she says was controlling and in a matter of months, lost everything.
"The first night he found out I was pregnant, I was out with a friend running errands and came back and he was drunk and he tried to push me down the stairs" said Emily, a survivor of domestic violence.
Because she no longer had a home or money, she says she struggled to leave. She finally decided to make the break when she was three months along.
"He would not let me go, got me on the ground, kicking me, punching me, trying to get the keys out of my hand," Emily said.
A friend told Emily about DaySpring Villa, a shelter for women and children escaping violence. She was leery of a shelter, but, says she immediately felt cared for and safe.
DaySpring is the only certified faith-based domestic violence shelter in the state and as such, doesn't receive any government funding. Something else unique is the length of time women and children can stay here.
"We do not require women to stay short term. We would prefer they stay here as long as it takes to reach their goals," said Wilma Lively, board president.
That can mean 30 days or three years.
Emily has been here four months and has a new job, health insurance and is working on housing for her and Zayla Avery Marie, once she's born. She says DaySpring has given them both a chance at a new life.
"I've grown up. I used to think I was independent and mature, just in four months here, they definitely saved my life," said Emily, a domestic violence survivor.
DaySpring's had a 23% increase in guests and they say the economy is a factor, but not the whole story.
They've seen more middle aged women who've stayed home while their husbands had successful careers and as those men get laid off, the pressure mounts and so does the violence.