Men, women, and children are victims of domestic violence. The trauma of domestic violence cascades throughout the community: physical injuries, mental illness, suicide, and expansion of violence into the larger community to name a few examples of the effects. Victims need a way out of this environment to find places of safety and care.
Because of Oklahoma’s bottom-dweller rankings in domestic violence statistics, it is no surprise that shelters are consistently at or over capacity. Sending victims back to their violent homes is not an option, and they need immediate shelter and counseling.
The ReBuilding Lives campaign at DVIS is providing a new shelter, transitional living facility, and additional counseling services to victims and their children. Proactively, it also counsels aggressors. But, until there are solutions to attenuate the underlying violence, meeting the needs of victims is progress.
“Grace” (name changed to ensure privacy) moved from Nigeria to the Tulsa area to pursue her nursing degree. Soon after arriving, she met her future husband. She’s a woman who likes to tell you what she’s thinking…but she couldn’t do that in her marriage. “Each time I voiced my opinion, it’s like ‘No! why did you say that?” Grace says.
The abuse escalated and became physical. Her in-laws told her it was time to leave. That’s when Grace made her next move, out of her house and into her car. She began sleeping at a gas station. At the same time, she was working and going to nursing school, and a professor noticed Grace wasn’t herself. Grace told her professor what was going on, and her professor recommended she visit DVIS. She moved into the emergency shelter and says she slept uninterrupted her first night – something she hadn’t done in a very, very long time. Her life began to turn around; she went to counseling, made friends, and became a licensed practical nurse.
Grace then moved into DVIS’s transitional housing. Her counselor encouraged her to become a registered nurse to ensure Grace’s emotional and financial independence. DVIS helped pay for Grace’s school with the assistance of a grant. Two years later, she graduated as a registered nurse and passed her boards. At Grace’s graduation, her DVIS counselor pinned her at the ceremony. “She (the counselor) was the one that started this dream,” Grace says.
Now Grace is in her own apartment and shares her story of survival. “So without this place (DVIS), I’d be past tense. I would be another sad story. I’m so grateful for the men and women who support this program.”