By Conrad Dudderar
Domestic violence is not confined to any group – but crosses all economic, racial, gender, educational, religious, and social barriers.
“Relationships are often counted as life’s greatest treasures, and tragically, many are tarnished by one person’s power and control over the other – resulting in violence and fear,” Canadian County Commission Chairman Dave Anderson said this week.
Anderson was reading from a proclamation recognizing October as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” in Canadian County.
He and fellow commissioners Tracey Rider and Tom Manske signed the proclamation, which describes domestic violence as “widespread and devastating to society.”
About one in three women and one in 10 men are victims of domestic violence each year, the document reads.
Board members and staff of Canadian County’s domestic violence agency, family justice center and law enforcement agencies attended the commissioners’ weekly meeting Oct. 2 to hear the proclamation.
“Our county encourages victims and their families to seek healing assistance provided by compassionate and dedicated individuals, programs, state coalitions and national organizations,” said Anderson, Canadian County’s District 2 commissioner.
“We pledge to advocate on behalf of those who have been assaulted, and to make every effort to prevent domestic violence.”
Since 1981, Intervention and Crisis Advocacy Network (ICAN) has been Canadian County’s domestic violence agency. The El Reno program house has served Canadian County residents since August 1997.
ICAN provides free and confidential services to individuals who have experienced all forms of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, dating violence, elder abuse, and human trafficking. Services include a 24-hour crisis hotline and emergency shelter for victims.
ICAN is an on-site partner agency at Cardinal Point, the Canadian County family justice center for domestic violence survivors.
Cardinal Point is housed at the Gary E. Miller Canadian County Children’s Justice Center.
Canadian County Undersheriff Kevin Ward and Commissioner Anderson serve on its board of directors.
Members of ICAN, Cardinal Point, Canadian County law enforcement, Department of Human Services, Red Rock Behavioral Health Services, and the District Attorney’s Office comprise the Coordinated Community Response Team.
“We meet every month to discuss activities, challenges and issues in the county involving domestic violence,” ICAN Executive Director Matt Whetzel said.
“We’re on track this calendar year to serve 700 clients in Canadian County.”
ICAN intervenes in times of crisis and advocates for victims while serving as a network to empower victims to become survivors.
“That’s our heart – that’s our mission statement,” Whetzel said.
Cardinal Point CEO Kristie Chandler thanked ICAN and other partner agencies who attended Monday morning’s Canadian County Commissioners’ meeting.
“It really takes all of us,” Chandler said. “There’s a saying that domestic violence only rises to a level a community is willing to accept.
“All of us working together really provides a safety net for survivors.”
Cardinal Point’s annual “Honoring Hope Luncheon” for Domestic Violence Awareness Month was Oct. 3 in Mustang.