Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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May 28, 2014

Cloudy view with domestic violence — One Ada professional who sees the aftermath of domestic violence on a regular basis believes victims are often viewed the wrong way by people looking in from the outside.

As executive director of the Family Crisis Center in Ada, Sharell Caton is closely following one such case here in Garvin County.

Caton points directly to domestic violence as the cause of Desiree Hill’s death last summer and the reason her boyfriend, 30-year-old Brandon Shane Christian of Elmore City, now faces a second-degree murder charge.

Hill died on June 27, 2013 after what Caton says was a long history of Hill being victimized by Christian’s violent behavior.

In her work at the Ada family center Caton says she’s often heard people comment on domestic violence cases by wondering why women many times return to a domestic situation they know is dangerous.

She believes this “victim blaming” is not the right way to look at these scenarios that can have dangerous and even deadly outcomes like in this case.

“That’s not fair to the victims for a whole lot of reasons,” Caton said.

“Why aren’t they saying, ‘why is he still beating her,’” she said. “That’s the real issue here.

“Violence is a choice. You make a choice to beat someone.”

According to Caton, in neighboring Pontotoc County the issue of domestic violence starts with the Family Crisis Center she oversees working closely with law enforcement.

With these cases convicted defendants are given a choice — some time in jail or their participation in a year long batterers intervention program.

She says the program is meant to help people better understand the impact violence has on others, issues of power and control and provides the tools for healthy relationships.

Caton adds programs like this one can be effective many times in turning lives around and moving them in a positive direction.

This is something she says is very much needed with Oklahoma ranking fourth nationally in domestic violence related homicides.

She can’t help but wonder if something could have been done to turn around the situation that resulted in Hill’s death last year.

“Is there something all of us could do to help prevent this from happening,” Caton said.

“I felt if everyone had worked a little harder this wouldn’t have happened,” she said.

“This was over a period of time and a lot of people knew about it.

“The feel is if he had been put in jail or a batterers intervention program this might not have happened.”

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