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Breaking the cycle of violence

With video footage of Ray Rice knocking out his then fiancee in an elevator and a subsequent newsreel of players with domestic violence charges, all eyes are on the NFL’s new policies regarding domestic violence.

Now, a player convicted of domestic violence will sit out six games on the first offense. On the second offense, a lifetime ban from playing in the NFL will be issued.

October marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month, highlighting the harsh reality that the NFL acts as a microcosm of society rather than a shameful outlier.

One in three women has been the victim of physical violence by an intimate partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Approximately 42.4 million women in the U.S. have experienced rape, violence or stalking by a partner in their lifetime.

Oftentimes, domestic violence incidents are wrapped in a cycle of power and control by the abuser.

“Statistics show the average number of times a victim will leave and return to their abuser is seven times before they decide to leave for good,” Sgt. Stephanie Jackson of the Tulsa Police Department (TPD) said in an emailed statement. “The most dangerous time for our victims is when the decision has been made to leave the abuser.”

Oklahoma is no exception to national domestic violence stats. According to a 2010 study by The Violence Policy Center, Oklahoma ranked 17 in the nation for number of females murdered by men in single victim/single offender incidents. In 2009, 18,686 adults and children sought help from Oklahoma’s 30 certified domestic violence programs.

Jackson, a TPD family violence unit supervisor, said certain initiatives are in place to combat the cycle of domestic violence, including the Victim’s Rights Card, the High Lethality Rapid Intervention Team that assesses lethality in an incident and the Family Safety Center.

When an officer arrives on the scene, a victim’s rights card will be handed to the victim that asks additional danger assessment questions that is unique to domestic violence incidents.

“We understand it is a hard step in the process because of the family dynamics that play a factor in every case. This is not some stranger our victims don’t know, instead it is their loved one,” Jackson said. “Love may break your heart at times, but it should never break your bones.”

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