WAGONER, Okla. -- Oklahoma is third in the nation for most domestic violence homicides. In 2016, there were 95 deaths in the state. A Wagoner County woman is working to help women get out of a bad relationship before it's too late.
Thanks to a Help-In-Crisis Center, there is hope for a brighter future for women in danger.
"It can start with just a phone call," Executive Director Laura Kuester said. "All it takes is that one step. A lot of people are literally fleeing for their lives."
For the first time there is an office in Wagoner County.
"Finally, women are feeling empowered to step up," Kuester said.
In 2016, the district attorney's office received more than 2,200 cases that included domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
"That doesn't even take into account the victims out there that are too scared to report," Kuester said.
The non-profit has been around since 1980. It serves district 27 which includes Cherokee, Wagoner, Adair, and Sequoyah counties. Since 1998, there have been 73 deaths from domestic violence.
"We help people get protective orders, we go to court with them, we offer counseling services and support groups," Kuester said.
It's a place close to Kuester's heart after an abusive relationship left this mother of three turning to a similar service.
"I ended up having to completely move out of state to get away from this person and that wasn't even it," Kuester said.
The organization is an asset to law enforcement.
"We talk to them," Help-In-Crisis court advocate Patricia Boswell said. "We tell them there is counseling and that we have resources and a shelter. There is money and different agencies that will help you transition from shelter to new housing."
With help, there's motivation for better a life, like the writing on the wall in the office.
"There's power in stories," Kuester said.
The organization opened its new office solely with donations and help from the community. They're still in need of financial support.
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