In honor of Domestic Violence Month, I’d like to highlight the extraordinary work of YWCA Oklahoma City, which has been serving the community since 1907.
Many people are unaware of the epidemic statistics related to domestic violence in Oklahoma. Today, Oklahoma ranks fourth for the number of women killed at the hands of men in this country. This alarming reality is why the YWCA is such an important resource. Their dedicated staff specialize in counseling survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, helping children process the trauma they have experienced in violent homes, and empowering women to start new lives. Though they are small in staffing, they pack a powerful punch when it comes to educating the community and assisting survivors overcome their past.
The Thelma Gaylord Emergency Shelter houses 120 battered women and their children and is the only shelter of its kind in the county. There, survivors may access medical care, legal services, transportation and housing information, as well as a support groups that help families rebuild their lives. The YWCA also provides long-term transitional housing opportunities that may allow a woman up to two years to go to school or job training, increasing her economic potential for a new beginning.
The YWCA also provides sexual assault services through a 24-hour Rape Crisis Hotline and hospital advocates who offer emotional support for survivors in hospitals, police stations, and court rooms. Their SANE program (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) provides specialized training to members of the public in collecting and preserving evidence that may assist in criminal cases.
The YWCA works hard to help survivors establish confidence and independence in their new lives. In 2007, they opened Our Sisters’ Closet, providing a ‘dignified’ place for clients to shop free of charge. This store is stocked by charitable donations from the public and allows the wider community to also shop there at bargain prices.
The community further benefits from the incredible work of the YWCA through the various business consulting services and inclusion trainings they offer. YWCA staff teach corporate employees how to detect potential abuse in their staff members and what they can do about it. In addition, YWCA staff teach on cultural diversity and inclusion in the workplace as a way to promote racial equality throughout the community.
The YWCA is “dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.” The staff, led by CEO, Jan Peery, heroically accomplish this mission on tight budgets and long hours. As a member of their Board of Directors, I am thrilled to feature a portion of the YWCA’s work and invite you all to attend any of their four yearly fundraising events, visit their facilities and find other ways to support their work. Many of us have experienced abuse or know someone who has. The YWCA is an invaluable resource in our community that we can celebrate and support in many ways. Please join me!
Domestic Violence Hotline – (405) 917-9922
Sexual Assault Hotline – (405) 943-7273
Statewide Safeline (for use outside OK County) 1-800-522-7233