Domestic abuse victims speak out at Crisis Control Center Candlelight Vigil

DURANT, OK -- Advocates say 1 in every 3 women experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime. Now, two groups are working to change that number by promoting safety and empowerment.

Crisis Control Advocates say Oklahoma has gone down in the rankings for domestic violence-related homicides. The state used to be in the top 10 now they are ranked 17th. However, advocates say even though the state is making progress locally the problem is getting worse. Monday night Kristen Shanahan spoke with some of the victims who have seen it first hand.

Tara Woodlee says back in July her daughter 20-year-old Ashleigh Lindsey was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend. Lindsey was pregnant at the time.

"Our family is still in shock, you know how do you let go of someone who had a whole future in front of them," Woodlee asked.

However, light has come out of tragedy for Woodlee as her daughter continues to make a difference in other people's lives. Woodlee says in the last two months more than 30 people have come forward to say they are victims of domestic violence.

"It's kind of amazing when you hear from someone in another state going your daughter has touched my life," Woodlee said.

Anna Marcy, with Durant's Crisis Control Center was an advocate for Lindsey. Lindsey reached out for help, but was killed just a day before going to a shelter. Marcy says unlike Lindsay. many victims have a hard time coming forward.

"They're afraid of retaliation. Women are afraid to let other people know that she was abused," Marcy said.

That is why Monday night dozens spoke out against Domestic Violence. Even the Silent Witness Initiative Tour joined the cause.

"Tonight is about reaching out to the community and empowering people to speak out about it or to do something to stop it," Marcy said.

Nicole Loper, a survivor of 12 years of verbal and physical abuse shared her story.

"About half way through my marriage with him he actually broke my jaw," Loper said.

She says without a good support system the relationship was hard to get out of, but she finally found the strength.

"When I saw that it was affecting my kids that was really for me when I thought I got to do something, I've got to get out of this situation," Loper said.

Loper and Woodlee who have experience domestic abuse first-hand say they are speaking out in hopes that other people will too.

"You don't have to be afraid, don't worry about what other people are going to think of you," Woodlee said.

"You've got to have a safety plan. You've got to build your own support system if you don't have one. A pastor, a friend your family, somebody," Loper said.

Crisis Advocates say anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. If you're a victim or know someone who is you can call the National Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or the Durant Crisis Center Hotline at 580-924-3030.

For more information about domestic violence visit www.thehotline.org


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