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Reports of domestic violence on the rise in Sequoyah County

Tuesday, July 12, 2022 - The rise in the cost of living, including groceries, rent, and gas prices, may be affecting more than just pocketbooks. Reports of domestic violence have been at the forefront for law enforcement and special victim advocates over the past month. However, many resources are available for victims of domestic abuse in Sequoyah County.

Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Office Victim Service Specialist and advocate Sarah Ridinger stated, "Spikes in intimate partner violence are linked to a combination of factors. Some of these factors may include: loss of job; increase in the cost of living; wage stagnation; children being home due to summer break; and the McGirt/Hogner rulings."

It’s hard to say whether or not domestic abuse is actually on the rise or whether victims or survivors are starting to report their abuse. Regardless, there are many resources available for residents of Sequoyah County who may be experiencing intimate partner violence.

Ridinger said, "Reporting to law enforcement is always an option, but not necessary for victim/survivors to receive assistance in escaping an abusive relationship. In many cases, victims or survivors qualify for emergency protective orders, which can be obtained through the court. Petitions for protective orders are available at the Sequoyah County Court Clerk’s Office and victim advocates may be available to assist in filling out the petition."

According to Ridinger, advocates have the ability to accompany the victim/survivor to civil hearings such as protective order hearings, divorces, and custody hearings. Advocates provide the victim or survivor with moral and emotional support and help guide them through what is often a very confusing court system.

Victim advocates can also provide referrals to services such as counseling, Legal Aid of Oklahoma, assistance in finding domestic violence shelters, safety planning, and advocacy agencies.

Those who choose to pursue criminal charges will be assisted by Victim Witness Coordinators employed by the District Attorney’s Office. Victim Witness Coordinators will help prepare victims and survivors for court proceedings and keep them updated on the criminal case.

"Victim Witness Coordinators can also assist in filing a claim with the Oklahoma Victim Compensation (OVC). OVC may provide victims with financial compensation for things such as loss of work due to victimization, counseling, and medical bills due to victimization," Ridinger added.

If you are need of any of the mentioned resources, please contact the following:

1-800-300-5321: Help-In-Crisis Hotline is a local hotline that serves Sequoyah, Adair, Cherokee, and Wagoner Counties.

1-866-458-5399: Cherokee Nation OneFire serves all 14 counties included in the Cherokee Reservation and helps everyone regardless of tribal affiliation.

918-790-4105-Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Office Victim Service Specialist

Lindsie Dyer, Staff Writer

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