As a lawyer, I often encounter people in the worst moments of their lives. Many times in a consultation, people pour out their pain, their struggles with issues of domestic violence and/or abuse at home or with a significant other. As an advocate, I empathize with them, and I am dismayed by how many of these clients are unaware of their rights under Oklahoma law. My compassion for survivors of domestic abuse and violence led me to become a proud board member of the YWCA of Oklahoma City. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, and as a YWCA board member, wife, mother, and a family lawyer, I want to take this moment to inform all Oklahoma City Moms: if you are in a situation of domestic abuse or violence, there is assistance, there is hope, and there is a way out to a different life. Mothers, if you have been beaten down physically or emotionally, let me tell you right now that there are ways out and people to reach out to. These attorneys, organizations, and resources are your allies in finding a better life free from abuse.
YWCA of Oklahoma City
At its core, the YWCA is a provider of emergency crisis-intervention services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The YWCA provides many crisis programs for victims of domestic violence, but the first step for a victim should be to call the YWCA safeline at 1-800-522-7233. Advocates are available 24/7 and will assist you with your immediate needs and help you plan an escape from a difficult situation at home or with a partner if needed.
Victims of domestic violence in Oklahoma County may also have access to the Thelma Gaylord emergency shelter. It is the only certified shelter for women and children in Oklahoma County. If you, either alone or with your children, are fleeing from violence at home and need somewhere safe to stay, reach out to this hotline at (405) 917-9922.
If a domestic violence survivor wishes to press charges against their abuser, the YWCA will provide advocates to assist them with court services, filing, accompanying them to court when appropriate, and anything else that may come up, explains Laura McDonald, Director of Domestic Violence Victims Assistance Program with the YWCA of Oklahoma City. Survivors of domestic violence have many issues they need to work through, whether their abuse was coercive, emotional, financial, and physical, so the YWCA also provides access to various counseling groups and support services. For more information, check out the YWCA website.
McDonald explains that children of domestic violence survivors also have traumas that they need to work through. The YWCA also provides children access to counseling programs designed specifically for them to help them learn how to break the cycle of violence. These programs give children tools to live a healthier life.
Leaving an abusive spouse can be a frightening notion, especially when the abusive spouse is the sole income earner. This is why the YWCA also provides financial help. The Economic Empowerment Program provides survivors with career and life skills, mentoring, and job placement so that survivors can recover from the financial toll of being in an abusive relationship.
Lastly, the YWCA provides specialized health care for survivors of sexual assault or rape. The YWCA employs specially trained domestic violence nurses that can examine you and help you through the healing process after trauma. These nurses specialize in collecting and preserving evidence after trauma. They provide strangulation assessments that document injuries, signs, and symptoms and give medical referrals if needed. The nurses provide these services at no charge through the YWCA, and without the necessity of having to press charges on the abuser.
Palomar Family Justice Center
The Palomar Family Justice Center is often referred to as the one-stop shop for survivors of domestic violence. They provide support for survivors, support for families, legal assistance, holistic healing, housing and financial assistance, and offender accountability services. The YWCA has advocates at Palomar available to assist clients. Many times, the YWCA and Legal Aid work hand-in-hand to provide services to victims. Check out their services page for more details on the services Palomar provides.
Our job is to be there for you in your time of need. We know how messy separation, divorce, and custody issues can get, and more so when issues of abuse or violence are involved. Our responsibility is to listen to you and help you decide what is in your best interest and in the best interest of your children. Our clients come to us because they know they can trust us. They know we will treat them with compassion and help them move forward from the worst moments in their lives.
One thing our clients often ask us to help them with is Victim Protective Orders (VPOs). We stand with our clients from the onset of abuse or stalking. We help our clients fill out VPOs and file them. We then represent them to the utmost of our ability at their emergency hearings or VPO hearings in front of the judge. We understand how important it is to have these protective orders in place and how detrimental it can be to you and your family without them.
If you are facing domestic violence at home or with a significant other, please reach out to either of these organizations. If you know someone who is facing domestic violence at home, please share this information with them. Unfortunately, in 2018, Oklahoma ranked 3rd in the nation for its rate of women deaths at the hand of men. 97% of those deaths were by men the victim knew. You are not alone. We have to look out for each other, especially during this pandemic. COVID has raised issues with domestic violence services, both because victims have been unable to get help due to advocacy center closures and because domestic violence has increased/worsened due to stay-at-home recommendations.
If you need a VPO and would like help filing one, we are here to help you at Mazaheri Law. We have extensive experience in helping survivors and can help you take the next step to bettering your life moving forward.
Katherine Mazaheri-Franze is an Oklahoma City “law mom” of 4 children of a blended, multiracial, and multilingual family. She has 5 year old boy/girl twins, a 7 year old, and a step-daughter currently attending the University of Oklahoma.
During the day, she works full time as Founder and Managing Attorney of the Mazaheri Law Firm and at night she’s an insta-pot home chef, boogie-monster eradicator, and trying to stay awake long enough to occasionally be the tooth fairy.
A portion of Katherine’s trial practice is devoted to assisting families in times of crisis. She assists clients with divorce, custody and visitation, property division, victim protective orders, and step-parent adoptions. Along with divorce, she assists couples in negotiation of pre-nuptial agreements and protection of assets.
Her heart for social justice has influenced her passion for employment litigation involving claims of wrongful discharge, sexual harassment/assault, employment discrimination (based on race, age, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, and disability), retaliation, as well as disputes involving wage and hour matters, medical leave, confidentiality and non-compete agreements, employee handbook and company policy violations and breaches of employment agreements. As the Founder and Managing Attorney of the Mazaheri Law Firm she is proud of leading an all-female team of attorneys who for over a decade have gained a powerful reputation for taking on cases that attack various social injustices leading to extensive recoveries for clients with compassion and integrity.