The Community Crisis Center is holding a town meeting to discuss family violence and how to address the problem in Craig, Delaware and Ottawa counties.

The goal of the meeting is to develop a countywide Family Violence Council, which will be a group of community residents with a desire to create a place where they can live without violence.

In the state of Oklahoma, there were 23 deaths related to domestic violence in 2006, according to Brandi Woods-Littlejohn, project director for the Oklahoma Criminal Justice Resource Center.

“Oklahoma ranks seventh in the U.S. for deaths caused by domestic violence,” Woods-Littlejohn said. “Delaware County ranks fourth in the state. Those figures are based on total deaths not ratio to population.”

In Ottawa and Delaware counties alone, there were three domestic violence-related deaths last year.

“For many people, it is easy to think, ‘that would never happen to me,” said Deedee Cox, executive director of Community Crisis Center Inc. “But the painful reality is that, when crime is ‘someone else's problem,' it becomes our greatest threat.”

The tragedy that occurred on Monkey Island on May 8 marks the first incident recorded this year for Delaware County, according to Woods-Littlejohn.

The community was shocked when the bodies of Aaron DeForest, 34; Sarah Smith, 26; Smith's son Skyler Price, 4, and the couple's son, Joshua DeForest 2, were found dead - all with gunshot wounds to the head.

All the deaths except Aaron DeForest's were ruled as homicide. His death was ruled as a suicide, according to the state medical examiners office.

“The importance of domestic violence prevention education needs to be a forefront project and played up to police, judges, prosecutors and community as a whole, with a zero-tolerance policy,” Woods-Littlejohn said.

Public awareness is critical, as domestic violence costs citizens billions of dollars yearly in health care costs, lost time at work, and related expenses, she added.

To provide services more effectively in the three counties of Ottawa, Delaware and Craig counties, CCCI has established satellite offices in Jay and Vinita, with a shelter in Miami and a safe-home in Grove.

There is 24-hour help - and the Community Crisis Center' goal is to assist and educate individuals and families in escaping violence in their lives.

Community Crisis Center Inc. will hold meetings on a bi-monthly basis beginning, June 11 at the Delaware Baptist Church, located at 35551 S. 620 Road, just before the Zena turn-off.

On June 12, a meeting will be held at the Miami Civic Center, which is located at 129 5th Ave. NW.

On June 14, a meeting will be held at the Vinita City Hall, located at 104 E. Illinois, in the city council room.

All meetings will begin at 7 p.m..

All community members interested in supporting a violence-free community are welcome to attend.

Volunteers for chairperson will be accepted the evening of the first community meeting.

For more information, contact (918) 540-2275.

Help is just a phone call away - the shelter and 24-hour hotline number servicing Ottawa, Craig and Delaware counties is 1-800-400-0883.