By Amy Lester, NEWS 9
When it comes to domestic violence, Oklahoma's one of the worst states, experts say.
We're ranked 10th in the nation for women murdered by men in a single victim, single offender incident. And we're third in the nation for domestic violence against African American and Native American women.
Melissa Lockhart speaks honestly about abusive relationships, a subject she knows very well. She's a survivor of domestic violence.
"He was good looking, he was athletic, he was fun to be around," Lockhart said. "I thought I had the perfect boyfriend. All my friends thought I had the perfect boyfriend."
That all changed when Melissa married her boyfriend Tommy Brock. She was pregnant with their child.
After several months of abuse, Melissa moved out and filed a victim's protective order. Once her son was born, Tommy convinced her to drop the VPO and come back.
"I wanted to believe the best about him," she said. I also thought it was my obligation to try to make it work again."
A month later she left again, filed for divorce, got another VPO and moved in with her parents. Melissa said Tommy stalked her, harassed her family and finally showed up, angry.
"He had a gun and he put it to my forehead," she said. "I was pretty much hysterical by then."
Right then, Melissa's brother called the house from a pay phone. Realizing Tommy was there, he dialed 911. But, Tommy had already forced Melissa and their son into a car and driven them to a wooded area where he abused her for hours.
Melissa's brother helped police find them in the wooded area. Then, the unimaginable.
"Tommy swung around with the gun and pointed it at the cops and they shot six times," she said. "When I turned around, I saw him fall."
Tommy was killed. Melissa and her son safely escaped.
"I don't know what he would've done that day," she said. "I don't know how it would've ended if they had not shown up and that's kind of scary so I'm grateful for what they did."
Melissa's case is extreme. If you look at the stats, you see she's not alone, one in four women will be a victim of domestic violence. In Oklahoma, domestic violence advocates blame poverty, a culture of guns and the rural terrain for increased abuse here.
Domestic violence experts say crisis centers and shelters saved the lives of 17,000 women in Oklahoma last year.
Everyone fighting this battle against domestic violence, including Melissa, hopes their efforts will lead Oklahomans to healthy relationships.
"You deserve to love yourself enough to say 'I deserve better than this,'" she said.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship and needs help, call the safeline at (800) 522-SAFE.