Oklahoma Watch multimedia reporter Whitney Bryen Credit: Mashiur Rahaman / Oklahoma Watch

Hi readers.
 
People often ask what a journalist’s work is like day to day. As a multimedia reporter, I juggle investigative reporting with capturing photos and video that bring our stories to life. Some days I’m tied to my desk sending emails, making calls and scouring reports. Other days I am traveling the state and learning from Oklahomans in all walks of life. 
 
This year, after wrapping up a video series, “The Invisibles”, I turned my attention to a topic that affects far too many Oklahoma families – domestic abuse. 
 
Domestic violence incidents reached their highest count in a decade last year, according to Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation reports I reviewed. 

I interviewed victims and their families, judges, prosecutors, legislators and victim advocates across the state to find out why they think the system is failing victims and what should be done. 
 
I watched nearly 100 domestic violence court reviews and attended a batterers intervention class, where more than a dozen participants described incidents that led to their convictions. 
 
I also read dozens of reports filed with the Attorney General’s office and found that most offenders aren’t completing state-mandated intervention courses. I reported that strangulation is a common form of power and control against women. And that cases against alleged abusers in rural areas often collapse when victims decline to testify.
 
As part of our new series “In Search of Solutions,” I unpacked a little-known ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court that could allow fearful victims to testify remotely

I take no position on the issues I cover. But uncovering facts can lead to impact, and we’re already seeing it occur. An assistant district attorney in Cleveland County said she plans to use the Supreme Court decision to ask for video testimony for victims. The AG’s office expanded reporting requirements for batterer intervention programs after I requested their policies and procedures. New bills are expected to be introduced next session seeking tougher sentences for strangulation and adding domestic abuse to Oklahoma’s list of violent crimes. 
 
I chose this career because I want to make a difference. And Oklahoma Watch needs your support to allow reporters to continue telling these stories and asking important questions.
 
If you ever have a tip or an idea, or know of a story of abuse that you want to share, please contact me at wbryen@oklahomawatch.org
 
Thank you for reading and for your support.
 
-Whitney Bryen
Multimedia journalist


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Whitney Bryen

Whitney Bryen is an investigative reporter and visual storyteller at Oklahoma Watch with an emphasis on domestic violence, mental health and nursing homes affected by COVID-19. Contact her at (405) 201-6057...