TPD extends lifeline to domestic violence victims

Posted at 10:20 AM, Feb 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-09 11:20:36-05

TULSA -- Domestic Violence calls are the second highest 911 calls the Tulsa Police Department gets. 

In the last six months, they received more than 10,000. 

"There was one incidence where he became angry with me and grabbed me by my neck and picked me up off the floor and the next thing I knew I was laying on the floor with my head pounding and the room was dark and I could not see," Hope said. 

The domestic violence survivor asked us to call her Hope, because it is something she wants to give other people who are in the situation she found herself in for 20 years. 

Hope endured physical, verbal, religious and emotional abuse from her now ex-husband. 

She said more than once police got involved. One time she found herself in the emergency room. Hope said the police and hospital workers gave her cards to get in touch with the Domestic Violence Intervention Services or DVIS. 

"At first I was hanging onto DVIS' courage," Hope said. "I didn't have that courage on my own. Eventually through all their supports, I found that courage inside me to say I am done."

Though the emotional scars will always be there, fortunately she does not have any long term physical effects from her years of abuse. That is not true of everyone, especially victims of strangulation. The injury is not always visible. 

"It can then occlude their airway," Hope said. "If they fall asleep while that airway is being occluded there is no one there watching them they can die from that and there won't be a mark on them."

TPD Officers are handing out cards about strangulation when they respond to domestic violence calls where the victim has been strangled. 

"In that, it tells the symptoms of strangulation, how dangerous it is, that it can lead to fatality later on," Sgt. Clay Asbill with the family violence unit said. 

They also have someone cold calling strangulation victims and encouraging them  to get checked out by a doctor. So far, Sgt. Asbill said they have had 30 people come in because of their calls. One found out she had a stroke and did not know it. 

"Part of being strangled is memory loss," Sgt. Asbill said. "You won't remember. Leaving that card with them and having that advocate call them later on and it's a non-police officer saying 'Hey, this is very dangerous... the situation you are in.' It is important that's why we're doing it."

They are also trying to get nurses in hospitals involved in spotting domestic abuse and figuring out the threat level to the victim. Then, they will put them in touch with someone who can figure out an escape plan. 

TPD is rolling out the program stating with charge nurses at Hillcrest Medical Center. 

"Even if they're at their own house, is safe to be at their house or do they need to go to the shelter or out of town to somebody else's house?" Kathy Bell, the forensic nursing administrator for Tulsa Police, said. "That's the type of stuff they would go through to figure out what's the safest."

Hope's advice to people who get that phone call or have someone reach out to them with help is to be honest and not to worry about what the abuser is going to think. 

"Just know the person is a lifeline for you at that moment and you need to be honest and tell them the truth and tell them the bad stuff," Hope said. "Tell them the stuff that you're ashamed for anybody to know."

The Family Safety Center at the Tulsa Police Department offers forensic exams to domestic violence victims. 


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