TULSA, Okla. — October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Lashona Mcwhirt was in an abusive relationship for twelve years. She is part of the 25 percent of women who will experience this in their lifetime.
“I had my head slammed against wall multiple times,” Mcwhirt told FOX23.
The Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation says in 2020, domestic abuse incidents were up three percent from 2019. This is fourth year in a row reports of domestic violence have been on the rise in the state.
Lauren Torkelson is a survivalist counselor for domestic violence survivors. She explained the way abusers are able to maintain control over their partners for so long. She said that abuse is caused and continued through cycles of control and manipulation.
“We know that it’s common for a survivor to return to an abusive partner approximately seven times,” Torkleson said.
This year, Oklahoma ranks No. 8 in the nation for women that are murdered by men. In 2019, 37 women were killed by men in the state.
Mcwhirt credited her children for her choice to escape her abuser.
“What was most important to me was saving my children, making sure that they were okay and breaking the cycle,” she said. “And I’ve done that.”
In Torkelson’s opinion, the best way to combat the raising rates of domestic violence is to understand how to support survivors.
“I think it’s very important we believe our survivors when they tell us their story,” Torkelson explained.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, you can visit the Domestic Violence Intervention Services website for help. Tulsa’s Family Safety Center also provides helpful information on how to support your loved ones that are survivors of abuse.
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