Whitney Kirby has new clothes she wears to job interviews. She has a three-bedroom apartment she shares with four of her six children. She says she feels happy and safe.
In September, she had none of this. She was homeless and a victim of domestic abuse.
An increasing number of Oklahoma City's homeless residents are victims of domestic abuse, according to the annual point-in-time homelessness survey results released Thursday.
More than 1,300 homeless people were counted in the Jan. 26 survey, down nearly 7 percent since 2011.
But the number of homeless people who have been victims of domestic abuse increased from 97 last year to 202 in 2012, said Dan Straughan, executive director of the Homeless Alliance.
“It's a startling statistic because the number doubled in 2011 and doubled again this year,” Straughan said. “We think more people are willing to report it and part of it has got to be increased incidents.”
Straughan said the community needs to find the best way to intervene and provide help if domestic abuse victims do become homeless.
Kristie Mitchell, senior director of domestic abuse services at the YWCA, said more people are reaching out for help.
“Domestic violence only rises to a level that a community is willing to accept,” Mitchell said. “As a community we have to remind victims that there is hope and make it our business to speak up if you know of any abuse.”