Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law making domestic assault a violent crime. Advocates said the reclassification will save lives.
“He had me locked in the house and had a gun and told me if he couldn’t have me no one else could,” said domestic abuse survivor Jacqueline Blocker.
For five years Blocker kept a dark secret from friends and family. That she was being abused. She was afraid and ashamed.
“There were the promises that he’d seen his mother get hurt so he would never never be able to do that to me. Of course I believed that and things escalated,” she said.
To the point where Blocker finally got out. She’s one of the fortunate ones.
Now Gov. Stitt has signed House Bill 3251 into law reclassifying domestic abuse as a violent crime.
“And what that means is that if a person is convicted for a domestic related offense, he or she will have to spend more time in prison before they would be eligible to be released,” said Kris Steele with Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform.
Those convicted of domestic abuse would have to serve half their term before they’re eligible for parole.
“I think it’s taken so long because historically domestic issues have been seen as issues that should be dealt with perhaps in the home or privately and there’s been a stigma around this,” Steele said.
The law also sends a strong message that domestic abuse is not OK.
“To dismiss it as nonviolent makes it feel like what you went through wasn’t violent. You should get over it,” Blocker said. “It 100% is going to save lives. It’s going to change the attitude for people to recognize this is a violent crime and it should be treated as such.”
The law goes into effect November 1.