By Chris Wright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Experts worry the economy in crisis may be contributing to a rise in domestic violence.
Officials with Domestic Violence Intervention Services believe higher unemployment, combined with other factors, is translating to more cases of abuse.
There have been 39 domestic violence homicides in the state this year. DVIS officials say that makes Oklahoma one of the worst states in the country when it comes to violence at home.
"It weighs pretty heavy on us. We know we're doing good work, but we know there's still work left to be done," said Tracey Redmond-Lyall, DVIS Executive Director.
Domestic Violence Intervention Services reports it's been a difficult summer.
On July 30, Nikkie Partridge passed away. Three weeks earlier, the 33-year-old had been set on fire. Police say her boyfriend, 23-year-old Kenneth McCurley, poured a flammable liquid on her, then lit it with a cigarette.
"We're going to miss Nicole very, very much, and nothing can ever change the fact that we won't have her anymore," James Partridge, Nikki Partridge's brother, said during an August 3 interview.
Just last week, Stacey Knapp was found dead inside her home. Investigators say Jeremy Jones shot her and then turned the gun on himself.
8/5/2009 Related Story: Jeremy Jones Dies After Possible Murder-Suicide
DVIS officials admit these are extreme examples, but say domestic violence is up across the board.
"We've seen people coming to us with filing protective orders with more severe injuries than in the past, and we're seeing more homicides," said Tracey Redmond-Lyall.
DVIS runs a 50 bed shelter that has been at or near capacity all summer. The group reports that in 2008, Oklahoma was the 10th-worst state for domestic homicides. This year, it's the 4th-worst.
DVIS officials believe the triple digit heat and poor economy are a dangerous combination and may be contributing to the spike in violence.
"If you already have a violent home, or propensity for violence in the home, those additional stress factors are going to escalate that violence," said Tracey Redmond-Lyall.
And as several Tulsa families struggle after losing loved ones, it's a trend she hopes does not continue over the rest of the summer.
DVIS officials encourage anyone experiencing domestic problems to call the DVIS Hotline at 743-5763.