Tracey Lyall, Chief Executive Officer, DVIS
For more than 40 years, Domestic Violence Intervention Services (DVIS) has been serving survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Tulsa and Creek counties. DVIS offers comprehensive services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and adult sex trafficking, as well as court or DHS-ordered offenders.
Due to the nature of our work, we are always exploring the disparities experienced by survivors and working to advocate for justice for all. Our organization’s vision is building a community where ALL relationships are free from violence and oppression. According to the 2020 Violence Policy Center report, Oklahoma is third in the nation for the number of women murdered by men–typically a male intimate partner.
Domestic violence and sexual violence span all races and socioeconomic classes, but victims with access to fewer resources are typically more likely to call 911 and seek our services. Many marginalized populations (low-income, LGBTQ2IA+, immigrants, individuals with disabilities and the elderly) face additional barriers to seeking help. Our work is focused on reducing, and if possible, eliminating those barriers.
This past year DVIS answered over 19,000 calls to the information and crisis line and provided 18,430 bed nights of shelter. Survivors staying with us are experiencing trauma and in many cases had to leave their home quickly with few possessions. Through support and resource sharing within the community our goal is to support their healing process and assist them in accessing safe, stable housing.
In 2020, COVID-19 closed down local courts and changed the way we operated. Even with greater restrictions, our legal team provided court advocacy and protective orders for 3,490 people and legal services for 224 people. This legal advocacy and representation in family law cases support individuals fleeing violence who are not able to afford legal counsel.
The fear of deportation prevents many immigrants from accessing help. As a result, we began reaching out to various community resources and created a packet (similar to this one), to help individuals who were being deported stay safe.
Additionally, when we talk about justice, we must note that Oklahoma’s incarceration rates are twice the national average for female incarceration. DVIS began working with and advocating for inmates at David L. Moss. Through this work we discovered that 90% of female inmates at David L. Moss had experienced sexual assault or domestic violence at some point in their lives. Additionally, many of their experiences brought to light the complexities around failure to protect laws. In many cases where a parent is charged with failing to protect their minor child in the presence of domestic violence, survivors of violence serve more time than perpetrators.
We strive to create a safe environment to support all survivors in their journey of healing. However, we are only a small piece of the puzzle and to truly move the needle it will take the efforts of the entire community to support those that are disproportionally impacted by violence and injustice.
To learn more about our comprehensive services visit us at www.dvis.org.