MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

October 8, 2013

Program to focus on domestic violence victims

By Thad Ayers
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Domestic violence happens in all levels of society, said Evelyn Hibbs, the director of Muskogee’s Women in Safe Home.

Hibbs said that was not her assumption when she started WISH 28 years ago.

“I thought it would be more people on government assistance. It’s not,” she said. “It’s every walk of life.”

Thirty-eight Oklahoma women were killed by men in 2011, according to a September report by the Violence Policy Center. That equals the third-highest homicide rate in the nation, the organization stated.

WISH, the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and the Lake Area United Way will have a memorial from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at Arrowhead Mall. Called “The Silent Witnesses,” it is a display of red silhouettes with writings that tell what has happened to the alleged perpetrators, Hibbs said.

“We wanted to try and show how many in the community have died,” she said.

The memorial includes a program at noon to remember those who died or have suffered as a result of domestic violence. Hibbs said speakers would include local officials and the sibling of a woman who was killed in a domestic violence case.

Community members who have helped WISH and area organizations in recent years also will receive awards.

Abuse is often misunderstood, Hibbs said.

“A lot of people think, ‘She keeps going back. She must like it,’” she said. “Instead of asking why she keeps going back, one should instead ask, ‘Why is he hitting her?’”

Many abusive relationships are often not discovered until either physical injuries or death occurs, she said.

Reach Thad Ayers at (918) 684-2903 or tayers@muskogeephoenix.com.

If you go

WHAT: “The Silent Witnesses."

WHEN: Display will be up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday. A program with speakers and presentations begins at noon.

WHERE: Arrowhead Mall, 501 N. Main St.

COST: Free.