This week’s tragic murders of an El Reno woman and her four children are stark reminders of Oklahoma’s domestic violence problem, said State Sen. Debbe Leftwich. The Oklahoma City Democrat says the time has come to pass tougher penalties for domestic abuse.
“Last year, Oklahoma went from being tenth to fourth in the nation for women murdered by men in domestic violence assaults. Yet, an abuser faces only a misdemeanor the first time they’re convicted of domestic assault,” Leftwich said. “Unchecked, domestic violence escalates with each attack. We need stronger penalties in place that can stop the abuse before it results in a homicide.”
Leftwich is the principal author of Senate Bill 707 which would make domestic violence a felony on the very first offense. She filed similar legislation last year, but the measure was never even heard in committee.
“In Oklahoma, it is a felony to write a hot check. It’s a felony to own a fighting rooster, but it is only a misdemeanor when a man gives his wife a black eye,” Leftwich said. “I do not see how politicians can claim to be pro-family or for family values but cast votes against legislation to give greater protection to victims of domestic violence.”
In 2007, The OSBI reported a total of 23,400 domestic violence related crimes in Oklahoma, but the number may actually be higher, as many women are too frightened to call police. Leftwich said the crime impacts women and children of every racial and economic background. Furthermore, research has shown that children are likely to repeat the cycle of abuse when they grow up, either marrying abusers or becoming abusers themselves.
“This is not a partisan issue. This is an Oklahoma issue and one we need to deal with. It is my hope that my fellow members in the Legislature will help make our state safer for women and children by helping me pass Senate Bill 707 this year,” Leftwich said.