Canadian County declares ‘Domestic Violence Awareness Month’

Intervention and Crisis Advocacy Network offers shelter, 24-hour hotline

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Canadian County Commissioners Marc Hader, Dave Anderson and Jack Stewart present a “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” resolution to members of the Intervention and Crisis Advocacy Network, a 24-hour crisis center that works with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault: Front from left, Director Carolyn Husmann, Carie Grissam, Chelsea Patyner, and Luz Jordan. The resolution was approved at a recent Canadian County Commissioners’ meeting. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar

Senior Staff Writer

EL RENO – Members of a 24-hour Canadian County crisis center are focusing attention this month on efforts to stop domestic violence.

Canadian County Commissioners have approved a resolution recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The resolution indicates about one in three women and one in 10 men are victims of domestic violence every year.

“Domestic violence is widespread and devastating to society,” according to the document signed by Canadian County Commissioners Marc Hader, Dave Anderson and Jack Stewart.

“It is not confined to any group, but crosses all economic, racial, gender, educational, religious and social barriers.”

The resolution was presented to Director Carolyn Husmann and other employees of the Intervention and Crisis Advocacy Network (ICAN) in El Reno.

“We try to get the ‘word out’ to let people know,” Husmann said. “We don’t turn anyone away. It’s very important that victims know we’re here.”

ICAN helps Canadian County victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, providing crisis intervention, support services and emergency shelter. The center is near the Canadian County Courthouse.

“We are the only Attorney General-certified program in Canadian County,” said Husmann, who’s been the director for 27 years.

FINDING A SAFE PLACE

Canadian County Commissioners encourage domestic violence victims and their families “to seek healing assistance provided by compassionate and dedicated individuals, programs, state coalitions and national organizations,” according to their resolution.

ICAN receives referrals from law enforcement, family members and friends of reported domestic violence victims. The Canadian County crisis center helps victims get to a safe place.

“We’re doing all of the victims’ protective orders,” Husmann noted. “Because of COVID, all victims are coming here and not going to the District Attorney’s Office. We’re helping them with the paperwork.

“After that, we sit and make a safety plan with them, and give them resources and referrals.”

ICAN also offers a Wednesday support group for domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking; with most referrals coming from the Department of Human Services.

ICAN will be partner agency in the county’s new Cardinal Point family justice center due to open this fall.

ICAN of Canadian County has a confidential 24-hour hotline. For more information, call (405) 262-4455.

ALREADY AN EPIDEMIC

Domestic violence already was an epidemic before COVID-19, but this year’s health crisis has prompted an increase in incidents of abuse.

“As our Nation continues to combat the coronavirus pandemic, we are forced to face the consequences of increased domestic abuse,” according to a national proclamation signed by President Donald J. Trump. “We must protect and support those who have found themselves locked down with an abuser.

“Now more than ever, we must do our part to provide domestic violence survivors with the tools and resources they need to escape their abuse and secure justice for the harm inflicted upon them.”

Domestic violence is an evil that threatens the social fabric of the country, according to President Trump’s proclamation.

“It is a widespread attack on the most sacred and intimate of institutions — the American family,” the document reads. “Domestic violence tears families apart, with devastating consequences that can last for generations.

“Tragically, more than 10 million Americans suffer at the hands of loved ones each year, and women are twice as likely to be targets of this heinous crime as men.”

Domestic Violence Awareness Month was introduced in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The annual observance was created to raise awareness about domestic violence while connecting and unifying the millions of affected victims.