Oklahoma Ranks 10th In Rate Of Women Murdered By Men

Wednesday, September 26th 2007, 3:44 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Economic pressures and substance abuse are among the leading reasons that 33 women were murdered by men in Oklahoma in 2005, ranking the state 10th in the nation in the rate of women murdered by men in a new domestic violence study.

The study by the Violence Policy Center in Washington examined the circumstances surrounding the 1,858 female homicides in the U.S. in 2005 including the type of weapons used, the victims' relationship with their assailants and other details.

Oklahoma's 2005 ranking is lower than it was in 2004, when the state was ranked seventh, Marcia Smith, director of the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, said Wednesday.

``Still, to be in the top 10 is nothing to be proud of,'' Smith said. ``The violence in our state is overwhelming. Our homes are so violent.''

The state experienced 1.84 women killed by men in single victim, single offender instances per 100,000 residents in 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Nationally, the rate was 1.32 per 100,000. Nevada led the nation with a rate of 2.53 per 100,000.

``These stark numbers should not only make people stop and remember the victims, but also raise awareness of the urgent need for intervention and prevention,'' said Kristen Rand, legislative director for the policy council.

The victims' violent deaths illustrate that domestic assault is deeper than quarrels between husbands and wives.

``This is not just a domestic situation,'' said Charlie Price, spokesman for Attorney General Drew Edmondson's Office which oversees the state's domestic violence budget.

``This is a criminal situation,'' Price said. ``It's not OK to beat your wife.''

Smith said economic pressures caused by poverty and alcohol and drug abuse are frequent factors in lethal attacks on women by men.

``Everybody is more stressed,'' she said. ``What we hope people will do is reach out and ask for help. The women who die don't reach out and seek help.''

The study found that in Oklahoma, three female homicide victims were less than 18-years-old and five were 65 years of age or older. The average age was 39 years. It also found that two of the victims were American Indian, nine were black and 22 were white.

Fifty-five percent of the victims were killed with guns, and 89% of them were killed with handguns. Twenty-seven of the victims were murdered by someone they knew, and 15 of those victims were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives or girlfriends of the offenders.

Smith said a domestic situation often becomes lethal after a woman leaves an abusive relationship. But 44 Oklahoma counties _ mostly in western Oklahoma _ have no resources within their borders to shelter and counsel battered women.

``The system is not so good for battered women,'' Smith said. One western Oklahoma shelter, Northwest Domestic Crisis Services in Woodward, works with battered women in 10 counties stretching across the Oklahoma Panhandle and into northwestern Oklahoma.

``We would obviously love to see more shelters in the rural parts of the state,'' Price said. ``A lot of times it's an issue of money and manpower.''

Earlier this year, Edmondson called on state lawmakers to increase funding for Oklahoma's 29 certified domestic violence and sexual assault service providers.

Price said the Legislature appropriated $500,000 more to the state's $4.1 million domestic violence budget and authorized an increase in filing fees for civil and criminal cases in the state, which will raise an estimated $1 million more.

``As state dollars hopefully increase in future years, that will allow more programs to come online in more areas,'' he said.