The Community Crisis Center Inc. was begun in 1981 by a survivor of domestic violence.

“I understand she tried to do what she wished had been done for her,” said Deedee Cox, executive director of the center. “Originally, we operated out of a trailer parked on church property.”

Cox assumed her position with the CCCI in 1994.

“October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” she said. “It's a good time to go over just what the CCCI has acomplished.”

Begun as a shelter for women who were the victims of domestic abuse in Ottawa County, the center, over the years, expanded its services to Craig and Delaware Counties.

The center moved to several locations during its first few years until finally it purchased a motel.

The motel was moved and renovated for use as a shelter for victims of domestic violence and their families. Changes included the addition of a kitchen and a great room.

CCCI spread its wings in 1996 when a grant it received helped it open an office in Grove and financed the salary of a part-time staffer.

Eventually, a safe house was opened in Grove.

“I think it's the first safe house in Oklahoma,” Cox said. “We realized that if someone needs help, they need it now. They don't always have the option to get to Miami right away.”

A safe house is a place a victim of domestic violence can stay for one to five days while considering options. If they decide to stay away longer, they'll have to move to the shelter in Miami.

The center also opened offices in Jay and Vinita to be near the Delaware County and Craig County Court Houses.

During that time, employees assisted with the Court-Appointed Special Advocate program and developed the Children's Advocacy Center.

Facing domestic violence from a different perspective, CCCI is hosting a batterer's program.

“This makes batterers have one more consequence of their actions,” Cox said. “Many men convicted of domestic violence are sentenced to attend a batterer's class, but no one else was doing one in this area so they didn't have to attend. Now they do.”

Cox said she thought highlights in the progress of CCCI is training.

In 1998, CCCI received a federal grant from the Department of Justice which funded the staff attending training in dealing with domestic violence in Duluth, Minn.

“The institute did national research in small and large cities on domestic violence,” Cox said. “It taught our staff to be advocates, to show the clients their options and not to judge them.

“I understand they've become so well known for the success of their training that they recently had students from Hong Kong.”

The advocates sit down with the clients and help them see all the pros and cons of the choices open to them.

“It's very important that the advocates be fully informed on what options are available throughout the counties,” Cox said. “Each community has its own unique patterns and resources.”

She also said that the creation of the Coordinated Community Response Program is also important.

“Law enforcement officials, prosecutors and victim services gather to discuss crimes of domestic violence,” Cox said. “It started in Delaware County and now there's one in Ottawa County, both under the auspices of the 13th Judicial District.

“(The response program) has increased prosecution as well as training for law enforcement officers.”

Today the crisis center helps between 150 to 200 victims of domestic violence annually. That number does not include participants in the batterers' class.

“And, no, that's not necessarily 200 separate victims,” Cox said. “Statistically, a woman returns to her husband nine times before finally staying away … that's if she lives that long.”

This year, the center's fund raiser will be a “Phantom Festival of Trees.”

The goal is to raise $30,000 through solicited donations from center supporters.