By: Julie Dermody | Category: Special Interest | Issue: September 2007
Volunteer Vicki Batynski and Executive Director Donna Grabow prepare a box of kitchen and food items for a woman and her children as they leave the shelter.
The car door slams. “He’s home,” she thinks as she hurriedly examines the house to make sure everything is in its place. As the key turns in the lock, fear rushes up her spine. She pastes a smile on her face and gathers the courage to turn and welcome him home. All the while, she remembers the night before. He greets her with a dozen roses like so many other times. Was it a dream? She feels her arms under her long sleeve shirt and winces. No, it was not a dream; the night before was real.
The echoing voice of anger lingers in the minds of abuse victims. Fear of another episode keeps them in constant trepidation. Over and over again they have been told they are unworthy of love, attention and courtesy. One blow after another impacts their bodies. Abusers find one excuse after another to inflict pain and fear. Those who live with them suffer both mentally and physically.
There is a way out. Victims of abuse do not have to continue to live in constant fear of another violent explosion. Safenet Services provides an escape route. The organization counsels on how, when, where and what to do. It can provide shelter and helps with protective orders to keep abusers away.
According to Susan Wolfenbarger, volunteer coordinator at Safenet, domestic abuse spans the spectrum in age, ethnicity, gender and social scale. “One of the most difficult challenges a woman can face is to free herself from the cycle of abuse,” she says. “Many abuse victims feel stuck because they are afraid of being alone. They fear that if the abuser finds them, worse consequences will be reaped.” The sole purpose of Safenet is to make available a safe environment for abuse victims.
Volunteers Betty Lamar, Jane McKinney, Lynda Fritts, Cole Butler and Volunteer Coordinator Susan Wolfenbarger sort donated items.
Safenet is one of only 31 programs in the state working collectively with the attorney general to ensure that domestic violence is a crime. “Our staff in the courthouse takes charge in filing protective orders and deals with other court-related issues encountered by victims,” says Donna Grabow, executive director of Safenet Services.
In addition to a paid staff, Safenet has a great volunteer base that allows its programs to continue. A few programs include counseling, parenting classes, the Victim Advocacy Program, “Changes” Batterers Intervention Program, the Supervised Visitation and Exchange Center, Sexual Assault Advocacy, as well as the Second Impressions Resale Boutique and Outlet. “Our volunteers are the backbone of our organization,” Wolfenbarger says. “We have approximately 100 volunteers, and we utilize 50 or more every month. There is always something to do.”
During the month of October, the staff will honor volunteers similar to “Betty,” a victim of domestic violence who found herself on the street several years ago with only the clothes on her back. She received help, encouragement and direction from Safenet. Now that she has her feet on the ground, she gives back by volunteering. Cole Butler, who has 26 years of experience with the Tulsa Police Department, volunteers a couple hours a week. “It’s the right thing to do,” Butler says.
Safenet, a United Way Agency, has launched a funding program called “Have a Heart… for Those That Have Broken Ones.” Benefactors and volunteers are still needed to help raise funds for the new, 25-bed facility that will be used as a domestic abuse shelter. Safenet is also currently applying for grants that need matching funds. If you would like to donate, whether it be your time or money, contact Safenet at (918) 341-1424. If you or a person you know is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault in need of help, call the Safenet crisis line at (918) 341-9400.